The once-world-class agency has been surprisingly absent during this pandemic. It’s part of a broader trend for American institutions.
Since shortly after the end of World War II, the CDC in Atlanta has been the axis mundi of the infectious disease world, head and shoulders above any other national public health agency. And yet, now that a pandemic has actually struck the United States full force, the CDC seems baffled—bumbling, cowed, and, above all, silent. Veteran science and health journalists are stunned by the CDC’s lack of leadership in the very sort of crisis it was born to combat. As one said to CDC head Robert Redfield early last month: “You’re invisible now, sir. Your agency is invisible.”