WASHINGTON ― The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is facing a call for an investigation after it sent a coronavirus mailing prominently featuring President Donald Trump’s name to millions of Americans.
“In terms of design, the main feature of the mailing is Trump’s name rather than the actual guidelines,” the watchdog group Accountable.US wrote in a Wednesday letter to the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general. “In fact, the message including the President’s name takes up more real estate on the postcard ― one full side ― than any other item.”
HHS oversees a number of agencies, including the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, that are involved in the coronavirus response. Both the CDC and HHS offered this response to HuffPost queries on the matter, and said they would have no further comment:
CDC, NIH, and Dr. [Deborah] Birx consulted on the content of this mailer through the White House Task Force for COVID-19. The Task Force has taken unprecedented steps to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of Americans ― part of the response efforts include the mailer, which was sent out to millions of Americans to educate them on ways to help slow the spread.
The postcard dated March 16 is headlined “PRESIDENT TRUMP’S CORONAVIRUS GUIDELINES FOR AMERICA” in all capital letters, and displays the logos of the CDC and the White House. On the back are the same recommendations that were unveiled that day and are frequently referred to by Vice President Mike Pence during White House briefings. The placards Pence has been holding up, though, originally titled “15 Days to Slow the Spread” and then “30 Days to Slow the Spread,” do not feature Trump’s name.
It’s unclear who decided to use Trump’s name so prominently – the font size of the headline is the largest of anything on the card ― particularly since he did not really support those recommendations, he said recently, and only went along with them because he was afraid of being criticized if he did not.
“I don’t think ― if I would have not done it we would have been unbelievably criticized for not doing it,” he told Fox News in a Rose Garden interview on March 23.
“Because this mailing features Trump’s name above all else and clearly seeks to cover up his well-documented history of undermining CDC public health recommendations, it can be quite reasonably viewed as electioneering ― especially with Election Day fast approaching,” stated the letter, signed by Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig.
Other critics, including health experts, pointed out that because such a large percentage of the population dislikes and distrusts Trump, many Americans were likely to ignore the CDC’s recommendations solely because Trump was associated with them.
Trump downplayed the seriousness of the virus and its threat to Americans from Jan. 22 through March 15, at one point even calling concerns about it “a hoax.” Only in the last two days has Trump acknowledged that COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is likely to kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, even if strict guidelines are observed across the country.
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