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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/15/20

As COVID-19 Cases Spike, Epidemiologist Warns "The Road to an Uncertain Vaccine Is Paved in Death"

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As the U.S. reports its highest one-day spike in infections and 11 states report record hospitalizations, the Trump administration is demanding states stop sending COVID patient data to the CDC, which then releases it to the public. We speak with Dr. Ali Khan, epidemiologist and the dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, about the Trump administration's handling of the crisis and his hopes for a vaccine. "The road to an uncertain vaccine is paved in death," notes Dr. Khan. He is the former director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, where he oversaw the Strategic National Stockpile. We also ask him about the ongoing shortages of masks and tests.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we're moving in on records being set every day. Coronavirus cases worldwide have soared by more than 1 million in just five days. The World Health Organization is warning the pandemic is raging out of control in North and South America and that the outbreak will continue to worsen if governments don't take basic public health precautions.

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS: If the basics aren't followed, there is only one way this pandemic is going to go: It's going to get worse and worse and worse.

AMY GOODMAN: Here in the United States, more than 67,000 new cases of the coronavirus were reported Tuesday alone, marking the highest one-day spike so far, and at least 11 states reported record hospitalizations. More than 136,000 people in the country have now died from the disease.

During a webinar with The Journal of the American Medical Association, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, made a dire prediction.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD: I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we've experienced in American public health.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as the Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers of Disease Control when they send COVID-19 patient data. Starting today, instead of the usual process of sending the data to the CDC, which then releases it to the public, states have been told to send it directly to a Department of Health and Human Services system that The New York Times reports is, quote, "not open to the public, which could affect the work of scores of researchers, modelers, and health officials who rely on CDC data to make projections and crucial decisions."

For more, we're joined by Dr. Ali Khan, epidemiologist and the dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He's the former director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC. He's also author, with William Patrick, of The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind's Gravest Dangers, a book that looks at how the world's public health community responded to outbreaks of the most dangerous infectious diseases over the past quarter of a century.

Dr. Khan, welcome to Democracy Now! It's great to have you with us. Let's start with that new directive that no longer are hospitals to send their information on COVID-19 patient data to the CDC, but instead to bypass the CDC. Can you talk about the significance of this?

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