“If You Have Money and You’re White, You Can Do Well”


A former CDC director has offered a blunt assessment of President Donald Trump reopening the U.S economy. Richard Besser said minority communities were at greater risk.

Besser was acting head of the Centers for Disease Control for part of Barack Obama’s first term. He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the country lacked the capacity to safely reopen.

“Back in 2009 during the swine flu pandemic, when I went to brief the president and the cabinet, what President Obama said to me at the time was ‘We want everything that you do to be based on the best public health science,’” Besser said.

“And I took that message back to the CDC,” he said. “The Emergency Operations Center broke out in cheers. It was just what people wanted hear.”

“It’s what the public needs to hear now, that everything that we’re being told to do is based on the best science. Without that, there’s no way of knowing what things are being told for political reasons and what things are being done for good science reasons.”

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Cooper asked Besser about reopening the economy. He pointed out that Dr. Anthony Fauci had asked about how much suffering people were willing to accept.

“I don’t think you can ask that question until you are taking every step possible to protect and preserve and save every life that you can,” Besser said.

“We don’t have the testing capacity now to know where this disease is,” he said.

“We haven’t scaled up the thousands and thousands of contact tracers that we need. We don’t provide safe places for people to isolate or quarantine if they’re identified as either having an infection or being in contact.”

“We’re saying if you have money and you’re white, you can do well here. If you’re not, good luck to you.”

“Until we are ensuring that every workplace has protective equipment. The front-line workers we consider essential, we didn’t consider them essential before this began,” Besser went on.

“Most of them weren’t being paid a living wage. Now they’re being forced to bear the brunt of this. We can’t accept that as a society. It’s not the America we really believe we should have.”

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