Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.
It has become a familiar pattern: President Donald Trump says something that doesn't line up with the facts held by scientists and other experts at government agencies. Then, instead of pushing back, federal officials scramble to reconcile the fiction with their own public statements.
It happened in March, when Trump pushed his opinion that antimalarial drugs could treat COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an unusual directive that lent credence to the president's perspective: “Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown, some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally" on specific dosages that the CDC then lists. The CDC's language — which the agency later retracted — shocked experts, who said the drug needed to be treated with caution. The CDC told Reuters the agency had prepared the guidance at the behest of the White House.