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New CDC Chief: There Was Some 'Muzzling' Under Trump

Biden administration gives first COVID briefing via Zoom, calls pandemic 'national emergency'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2021 12:30 AM CST

(Newser) – The Biden administration held its first coronavirus briefing Wednesday, and it was clear from the start that it would be very different from the Trump-era briefings. President Biden did not make an appearance, there was no data presented that wasn't from federal agencies dealing with the pandemic, and the entire briefing was held over Zoom, NBC reports. The briefing was led by businessman Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID response coordinator, reports NPR. He said the Defense Production Act might be used to produce vaccine doses faster. "This is a national emergency. Four hundred thousand people have died," said Zients. "Everything is on the table across the whole supply chain," he added. "And we will execute accordingly."

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Zients said the administration is going to "get more vaccinators in the field" by amending the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to encourage retired doctors and nurses to administer shots, the Washington Post reports. The "PREP" law shields health care workers from liability during emergencies. The four other speakers included Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asked about how she planned to restore trust in the agency, Walensky acknowledged that there had been some "muzzling" under the Trump administration and "science was not always leading the way." "I want to make sure science is leading the way, that the voices and the subject matter experts within this agency are again heard," she said. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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