White House’s Attempts to Muzzle Government Scientific Experts on Coronavirus Endanger Public Health

Statement of Dr. Michael Carome, Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

Note: The New York Times today reported that Vice President Mike Pence will control all coronavirus messaging from federal scientists and health officials with the purported goal to make sure their efforts are coordinated.

There’s nothing wrong with a coordinated process inside the federal government to make sure it is sending out clear, fact-based information about the widening coronavirus epidemic. But there’s every reason to suspect something else is happening – that public health experts are being instructed to stay silent because they are sharing truthful information that the Trump administration finds inconvenient or that contradicts the random musings of the president.

As we have seen in China’s response to the outbreak, muzzling public health experts at a time of a potentially emergent public health crisis is reckless and endangers the public. It should be obvious to the Trump administration, though perhaps it is not, that silencing truthful information about the coronavirus is likely to speed – not stop – its spread.