Former CDC Director & US Surgeon General says CDC missteps not an excuse to ignore science

U.S. hospitals have been ordered to stop sending COVID-19 ICU and patient hospitalization data to the CDC in Atlanta.

Instead, they are now forwarding the numbers to another U.S. Health and Human Services database in Washington.

The Trump administration says the move will speed up the processing of critical COVID-19 information.

The move concerns critics, who feel the Atlanta-based health agency is being sidelined at a critical point in the pandemic, as cases surge across the country.

Former CDC Director and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, says the country needs an all-hands-on-deck response to the pandemic. 

The founding director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine is urging the Trump Administration to include the CDC in the pandemic decision-making process.

"I'm not saying that scientists are perfect," Dr. Satcher says.  "But, I also think that in the interest of the health of the American people, we need to decide how we're going to move forward."

Dr. Satcher is one of four former CDC directors who wrote an editorial published in the Washington Post Tuesday accusing the Trump Administration of letting partisan politics get in the way of the CDC's pandemic response.

"If you have scientists who are giving you information on the best available science, you shouldn't tell them what to tell you," Satcher says.

The CDC has faced criticism for missteps in its handling of the pandemic, especially early on, when contaminated test kits were distributed to state health departments.

The agency has also struggled to roll out testing for the virus.

"I think the CDC has to listen to criticisms," Dr. Satcher says.  "I think if they make errors in the way they operate, they have to listen.   But, I do think that's not an excuse for us as a nation to stop respecting science and the people we hold responsible for giving us the best available science."

A major challenge now is getting students back to school.

President Trump is pushing for schools to resume in-person classes, criticizing

CDC's draft back to school safety guidelines on Twitter as "very tough" and "expensive."

The White House is pushing the agency to go back to drawing board and revise the guidelines.

"I think if we can do school, we should do school," Dr. Satcher says. "Because so many good things happen for kids at school that don't happen at home.  But the question, again, is how do we do that safely?"

The answer, Dr. Satcher says, has to be driven by science and teamwork.

"It's going to take a good relationship to beat this pandemic," he says. "It's going to take people working together."

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield has said the CDC will not be revising its school safety guidelines, but will be providing additional information later this month.