Letter: Evidence of coronavirus threat was ignored

To the editor:

I write this just after the governor’s call for Minnesotans to stay home if they are not providing essential services. Our family is glad to comply except for the one member who works at the hospital. We hope for the best.

Still, you can’t help remembering that as late as one month ago, our president was blaming the media for early reporting about the coronavirus. This after a presidential history of emptying out scientists at the Center for Disease and Infection Control, for canceling research into epidemic control and pandemic prevention, for firing the White House scientists charged with pandemic planning and doing agricultural research on coping with climate change, all part of the administrations deliberate effort to reduce the influence of scientists in federal policy making.

No surprise, then, our president ignored the advice of the CIA who in January reported the threat and, worse, that of Dr. Anthony Fauce, head of the Infectious Disease Institute, who warned that the brand new coronavirus in China had the potential to become a pandemic partly because of its ability to multiply in the human body while showing no symptoms for several days.

Just days ago, the Trump administration moved to restrict the type of scientific research that can be used in EPA public health decisions. But this is just one of many of the rollbacks of evidence-based policy that are currently underway in a hurry up effort to stifle scientists before November’s elections.


The public must take notice of this weakening of our ability to take evidence-based government action. Not only are millions of lives at risk from the coronavirus, but the lack of scientific input will reduce our ability to adapt to all the other challenges to rebuild an economy that runs on clean energy, clean transportation, and sustainable farming.

Jeanne Johnson

Alexandria, MN

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