The Coronavirus Stories The White House Buries

The Center For Public Integrity (8/22/20)

Hi Watchdogs, and welcome back to your favorite newsletter.

This week, we have another scoop on White House Coronavirus Task Force leader Dr. Deborah Birx’s  latest call with state and local leaders about the state of the pandemic, the reason why workplace deaths are on the rise and pilots fighting robots. Let’s get into it.

What the White House doesn’t want you to know: The state of the pandemic.

Every week, the White House Coronavirus Task Force issues weekly reports to governors about the current state of the pandemic but keeps these reports out of sight from the public.

We’re changing that. 

Yesterday, after we shared Kentucky’s state report with 100 local outlets, journalists there closely questioned Gov. Andy Beshear on why he went against White House Task Force recommendations to re-open bars in late July.

We’re collecting the secret reports, making them public and updating them as new information comes. So far, we have Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington. Take a look at what we found so far. 

This week, Birx recommended that universities test students returning for fall classes as well as set up “surge” testing, or testing thousands of samples a day, during a private call with state and local leaders.

In a recording of the phone call that we obtained, Birx said that in addition to “surge” testing, each university should also do entrance testing.

The kicker: It doesn’t seem like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got the memo.

The CDC doesn’t recommend entry testing for all college students and staff because the method hasn’t been “systematically studied.” The advice from Birx came after coronavirus outbreaks forced the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Notre Dame to revert to online classes.

Shout out to UNC Chapel Hill’s student newspaper the Daily Tar Heel, that published an editorial saying students saw this clusterf**k coming. 😬 Their words, not ours.

Related: The Atlantic writes about a group of epidemiologists and economists who think a COVID-19 testing technique called “pooling” could get a few hundred thousand more tests out every day. (via The Atlantic)

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