White House blocks CDC from testifying on reopening schools next week

(CNN)"The White House is blocking US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield and other officials from the agency from testifying before a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on reopening schools next week, just as the debate over sending children back to classrooms has flared up across the US.

White House officials informed the committee of its decision in an email, a staff member on the House panel told CNN.

"Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response," a White House official said, confirming the decision to block the CDC's participation in the hearing.
But a spokesman for the House Education and Labor Committee said the panel had requested testimony from any CDC official, not necessarily Redfield.
    "We asked for anyone at CDC who could testify at the hearing. The invite was not for Dr. Redfield or no one," the official said.
    House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott said the testimony from CDC officials is critical to understanding how scientists would manage the reopening of US schools.
    "It is alarming that the Trump administration is preventing the CDC from appearing before the Committee at a time when its expertise and guidance is so critical to the health and safety of students, parents, and educators," the Virginia Democrat said in a statement.
    CDC officials have delayed the release of new recommendations for sending children back to classrooms.

    Earlier this week, Redfield stressed the wearing of masks as a key component to any strategy for reopening schools.
    "Because to me, face coverings are the key. If you really look at it, the data is really clear -- they work," Redfield said."
    Is this all fake news, or poor communications.  How many layers of desks do these communications go through?
    White House orders hospitals to bypass CDC and send covid-19 reports directly to the White House
    White House instructs CDC to not testify at House Committee.
    Perhaps the White House has lost confidence in Dr. Redfield as director of the CDC. While there is considerable frustration at the White House they continue to have considerable faith in Anthony Fauci M.D.  Dr. Fauci is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a department in the NIH. Rather than depending on the head of the CDC.  Dr. Fauci was called upon to direct and consult the approach to Covid-19. Dr. Fauci remains a stellar example for scientific research and also immune to political pressures.
    As the coronavirus death toll  in the US  tops 107,000, questions have intensified over what could have been done to avoid such a catastrophic loss of life.  Beyond criticism of President Donald Trump himself, scrutiny has fallen particularly hard on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its embattled director, Dr. Robert Redfield, whom Trump appointed to the job in 2018.
    In interviews with numerous public health experts, including eight current CDC officials, many said they are disillusioned by Redfield, telling CNN he's failed to push back against White House efforts to sideline the CDC and politicize its science.
    While sources consistently described Redfield as a respected doctor, they also view him as a relatively ineffectual public health leader at a time of the pandemic, and a pawn of the President's political agenda.
    "A major problem for our agency is lack of leadership," said one CDC official who spoke about Redfield on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. "He's a very nice guy, but I think he was put in place to serve a political purpose, not to lead an agency."
    Inside the CDC, confidence in Redfield has deteriorated amid the rising death toll. CDC sources who spoke to CNN said they are deeply frustrated over what they say has been an effort to freeze out the agency from decision-making, and cut it off from directly addressing the public. Tensions have risen between the White House and the Atlanta-based public health agency, with some CDC officials blaming Redfield for not doing more to advocate for the agency's own authority.
    This is not the first time Redfield has been at the heart of a controversy over the government's response to a virus epidemic. In the early 1990s, Redfield, then one of the Army's top AIDS researchers, was at the center of a scandal over a purported HIV vaccine. Allegations that Redfield oversold data and cherry-picked results sparked an internal Army investigation into his work. 
    The Army ultimately did not charge Redfield with scientific misconduct. But interviews with former colleagues with direct knowledge of the investigation, and a review of internal documents suggest Redfield knew he was misrepresenting the data behind the vaccine, even as he publicly touted its results— an effort that ultimately helped garner millions in federal funds for further testing.
    Redfield was also found to be in violation of Army code over his relationship with a conservative AIDS nonprofit run by a prominent evangelical activist who has promoted abstinence-only solutions to the disease.
    In the end, the vaccine treatment did not pan out. Redfield has previously said that he stands by his work.

    Manu Raju contributed to this story.