Harrison County Judge-Executive Alex Barnett, Magistrate Dwayne Florence and Treasurer Melody McClure said the pledge of allegiance at a Fiscal Court meeting. Barnett told USA Today, “I am no expert in health … I am an expert on growing cattle and tobacco. I rely on the CDC.” (Photo by Jack Gruber)
A bombshell USA Today package details how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to effectively respond to the growing pandemic, adding to its spread across the U.S.—especially in small towns and rural areas.
“In the most extreme cases, the CDC undermined health officials advocating a more aggressive approach to control the spread,” Murphy and Stein report. “The agency went so far as to edit a government science journal in late March to remove a Washington state epidemiologist’s call for testing throughout senior assisted-living facilities. ‘I would be careful promoting widespread testing,’ the CDC editor noted.”
|Julia Donohue (USA Today photo by Jack Gruber)
The story highlights how the CDC’s missteps hurt small towns such as Cynthiana, a Kentucky town of 6,400 that took the agency’s advice to continue life as normal, Murphy and Stein report. In early March, Cynthiana resident Julia Donohue got covid-19, the first confirmed case in the state. But the local hospital she went to had received no urgent warnings about community spread, and the more than 50 hospital workers who came into close contact with her did not wear masks or other protective gear that was in short supply. Cynthiana became the epicenter of a statewide outbreak.
“I am no expert in health when it comes down to it. I am a farmer,” Barnett told USA Today. “I am an expert on growing cattle and tobacco. I rely on the CDC for guidance.” However, Barnett did try to help the local newspaper inform Cynthiana residents. Two days after Donohue’s test came back positive, Barnett agreed to fund delivery to every mailbox in the county of a special edition of The Cynthiana Democrat explaining the best known facts about the coronavirus.