CDC Communications Containing Terms Related to Covid-19 and Testing

Records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in response to American Oversight’s request for communications containing terms related to the coronavirus and coronavirus testing. Details on the content of these records, which span March to April 2020, are below.

Records received September 2020

Records received October 2020

Records received in December 2020 and January 2021

In the documents

Email About Masks

April 2, 2020: Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director at the CDC, said, “The STAG-IH [the World Health Organization’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards] is discussing the community mask issue and most of us have moved our opinions based on the Asian experience and the relevance of presymptomatic transmission. We also have been discussing the homemade option so it shouldn’t be so inaccessible for low resource places. … But we are reviewing evidence on Friday’s morning call.”

That call took place on April 3, the day the CDC reversed guidance on masks to recommend that Americans wear face coverings in public. 

Communications with CMS Officials

March 5, 2020: Meredith Good-Cohn, senior adviser to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma sent an email to CDC officials, trying to schedule a call about nursing homes. Good-Cohn said, “It has been difficult to get [the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response] on board with the nursing home call today so we are going to aim for first thing tomorrow morning. I know Dr. Redfield is getting in super early to Atlanta, but hoping we can find a time to have the first call tomorrow since it is most important that Adm Verma and Dr. Redfield be on the line.”

This was forwarded to CDC Chief of Staff Kyle McGowan, who said, “He [Redford] can’t do anything before 12:30.” The documents don’t make it clear whether the meeting took place.

April 28, 2020: A CMS official sent an email with the subject line “nursing home study & sports,” saying, “I did review the slides and noticed the study you are doing in a few states on nursing homes. […] Of course, we will want CDC to participate. […] Also, we met with the professional sports leagues today. Is the CDC planning on putting out guidelines for little leagues, etc community sports?” 

Schuchat replied, “We will get you follow up on the four state work on NH and language for the speech, as well as suggestions on commission members. … We hadn’t developed guidance for general release for professional sports.” 

April 29, 2020: In response, CDC physician Denise Cardo emailed other CDC officials about the nursing home study request, providing a “few bullets related to the nursing home pilot.” The text following this was redacted. The email concluded by mentioning they were working ”on names for the Commission.”


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