Robert Ray Redfield Jr. is the current Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the current Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, having served in both positions since March 2018.
Robert Redfield was overruled by the White House today when he pushed to extend a “no-sail order” on passenger cruises into next year. According to a report on Axio claiming two sources with direct knowledge of a conversation today in the White House Situation Room.
Cruise ships were deadly with a record and deadly outbreak of COVID-19 at the beginning of this epidemic. US President Trump wants business, including the cruise business to reopen against the recommendation by Redfield and other members of President Trump’s team.
The undermining of Redfield has been the source of much consternation among public health officials inside the administration, who argue that a politically motivated White House is ignoring the science and pushing too aggressively to reopen the economy and encourage large gatherings.
According to the Axios report, in a meeting of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force today in the Situation Room, Redfield argued that the government’s ban on cruise ships, which expires on Wednesday, should be extended until February 2021 because of the virus’ severity and the vulnerability for the spread on cruises.
Vice President Mike Pence, who chaired today’s meeting, told Redfield that they would be proceeding with a different plan, according to two task force members.
The Trump administration plans to extend the no-sail order for cruise ships until October 31 in coordination with the cruise industry’s self-imposed ban. Cruising in other countries including Seychelles has been banned for as long as two years.
Representatives of the cruise industry are set to meet with the Trump administration on Friday to “describe their transformation and dozens of ways that they will mitigate risk and ensure public health,” according to a White House official.
The White House has been at odds with Redfield for months now, and top officials including President Trump have been publicly dismissive of some of Redfield’s statements about the coronavirus and the public health measures required.
Robert R. Redfield, MD, is the 18th Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. He has been a public health leader actively engaged in clinical research and clinical care of chronic human viral infections and infectious diseases, especially HIV, for more than 30 years.
He served as the founding director of the Department of Retroviral Research within the U.S. Military’s HIV Research Program, and retired after 20 years of service in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. Following his military service, he co-founded the University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology with Dr. William Blattner and Dr. Robert C. Gallo and served as the Chief of Infectious Diseases and Vice-Chair of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Dr. Redfield made several important early contributions to the scientific understanding of HIV, including the demonstration of the importance of heterosexual transmission, the development of the Walter Reed staging system for HIV infection, and the demonstration of active HIV replication in all stages of HIV infection.
In addition to his research work, Dr. Redfield oversaw an extensive clinical program providing HIV care and treatment to more than 5,000 patients in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. community.
Dr. Redfield served as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS from 2005 to 2009, and was appointed as Chair of the International Subcommittee from 2006 to 2009.
He is a past member of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council at the National Institutes of Health, the Fogarty International Center Advisory Board at the National Institutes of Health, and the Advisory Anti-Infective Agent Committee of the Food and Drug Administration.
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