September 24, 2020

Video: In Senate Hearing, Kaine Presses CDC Director on “Mixed Messages,” Removal of Guidance Warning About Airborne Covid-19 Spread


WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, in a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing titled “COVID-19: An Update on the Federal Response,” U.S. Senator Tim Kaine pressed Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Robert Redfield on the CDC removing guidance on its website pertaining to airborne spread of COVID-19. Kaine asked about the removal of the CDC’s statement that, “there is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes).” When Kaine asked Redfield if the information that was taken down was accurate, Redfield said, “there is definitely evidence of that” and that the language that was taken down was a draft that “had not been technically reviewed by CDC." Kaine highlighted this change as an example of the Trump Administration’s poor communication and management of the COVID-19 response.

Kaine said, “The management of this crisis has been one of the worst failures of domestic governance in the history of this country… We need to communicate clearly. When you put up a document at the CDC that you have just testified is accurate and then it’s changed to suggest that the risk is more minimal by someone for some reason, it contributes to the massive confusion that is so troubling to scientists and so troubling to people.”

He also raised concerns about other mixed messages coming out of the Trump Administration. Kaine said, “The day that the Administration laid out guidelines for states on reopening, my Governor who is a doctor said those are good guidelines. I’m going to follow them. The next morning, the President tweeted out a tweet against him: ‘Liberate Virginia’ against this tyrannical governor who is following my advice.”

Kaine also pressed Redfield on a member of the Trump Administration suggesting COVID-19 is an invented crisis. Kaine responded that his four friends who died of COVID-19 “would say it wasn’t an invented crisis.”