Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reportedly flabbergasted that their boss, CDC chief Robert Redfield, took the extraordinary step of signing a letter excusing Vice President Mike Pence from quarantining.
While Pence has so far tested negative for coronavirus, over a dozen people in Trump’s orbit have been diagnosed with the disease since last week. Nevertheless, following a “detailed discussion” with Trump’s doctor about Pence’s chances of exposure to the disease, Redfield determined that “from a public health standpoint, it is safe for the vice president to participate in the upcoming vice-presidential debate.”
“To me, if we are not involved in the investigation, I don’t know how we could make that determination,” one CDC official told The Washington Post anonymously. “We should stick to our guidance. You should be quarantined for 14 days if exposed.” Another CDC official expressed dismay that such a letter was written by the agency’s chief at all: “Pence should have asked for a private entity to endorse he was ‘clean.’ Using his special privileged access to the nation’s top public health official is disturbing.”
According to the CDC website, “For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes.” But the Post points out, “Pence attended the Rose Garden ceremony two Saturdays ago marking the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett — an event attended by several others since diagnosed with COVID-19.”