Diagnosing and treating what ails the CDC

This Article first appeared on Fox News on February 22nd, 2024.

In a step that is long overdue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will loosen COVID isolation guidelines – finally embracing a more practical approach that acknowledges how much has changed since the guidelines were last updated in 2021. The CDC’s announcement exemplifies their response to the pandemic, characterized by dramatic policy failures and out-of-touch decision-making.

A little more than four years ago, the secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in response to COVID-19. Unfortunately, it quickly became painstakingly clear to those working in the White House, and to most Americans, that the nation’s premier public health agency had long ago fell asleep at the wheel.It was obvious the CDC could not rise to the challenge presented by COVID-19 and is overdue for both a holistic reevaluation and strategic refocusing. One of us had a first-hand account of this as a White House fellow.


When the coronavirus arrived in the U.S. after the failures of China and the World Health Organization to properly warn the world, it spread through hospitals, nursing homes and public spaces. However, the CDC – whose original mission was to protect Americans from communicable diseases – failed miserably in their response.

Over the course of four years, they mishandled public communication and messaging, were unable to thoughtfully assess risk, engaged in widespread regulation of Americans’ everyday lives, and caused economic devastation through wide-reaching public health recommendations.

Within weeks of declaring the public health emergency, the CDC failed its first major test by its inability to develop tests internally, prompting the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House to step in to help solve the issue in partnership with the private sector. The problems only got worse from there.

Under the Biden administration, CDC officials coordinated with teachers’ unions to keep schools closed – despite warnings of adverse effects on children’s mental health and academic development.

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