Bonkers federal podcast downplays COVID-19, blasts health restrictions

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Former Trump campaign official, Michael Caputo, arrived at the Senate Office Building in Hart to interview staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Zoom in / Former Trump campaign official, Michael Caputo, arrived at the Senate Office Building in Hart to interview staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC.

In a stunning podcast released by the Department of Health and Human Services, two senior officials in the department have repeatedly downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic, decried mitigation efforts, called the shutdown of personal education “nonsense,” and said that American journalists do not. “[give] A curse on public health information. “

Podcast, It was released on the HHS website on September 11, Part of a series hosted by Michael Caputo, who currently holds the title of HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. Although Caputo had no background in healthcare, the White House appointed him to the department in April – a step he was said to have taken. He further asserted the White House’s control of HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Caputo is a longtime Trump loyalist and a former campaign official. He started his life under Roger Stone and later worked as a consultant in Moscow for Boris Yeltsin and worked in the field of public relations for Vladimir Putin.

Learning curve

Caputo recently grabbed the headlines to work on Interfering with scientific reports and changing them About COVID-19 prepared by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The aim of the intervention was to make the reports more in line with Trump’s messages, who did Admit to underestimating the epidemic. Caputo raised eyebrows too b Facebook live video, reported by The New York Times on MondayHe accused, without evidence, government scholars of engaging in “sedition,” and claimed that the CDC includes a “resistance unit.” He also spoke of long “shadows” in his apartment in the capital, and said that leftist “assassination squads” were preparing for the armed rebellion after the elections.

With HHS’s slightly more upbeat podcast series, The Learning Curve, Caputo is highlighting the work of HHS officials so that listeners can “learn from the people I learn from”. On the September 11 episode – in which he described government scientists in particular as a “wonderful group of experts” – Caputo spoke with Eleanor McCanns Katz, head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA), a division of HHS.

Brooms Katz, described by Caputo as “one of the angels of the department,” is a psychiatrist and holds a PhD from Yale University in the epidemiology of infectious disease. She was the chief medical officer at SAMHSA during the Obama administration but resigned two years later saying SAMHSA You weren’t doing enough To treat people with serious mental illness. The Trump administration reassigned the agency in 2017, and it has since been Allied with the audience With some Trump views on the pandemic.

On the podcast, the conversation with Caputo and McCance-Katz began unremarkably, as the two discussed the opioid epidemic and related HHS efforts. But about 20 minutes into the hour-long episode, the discussion turned to a critique of stay-at-home orders and other mitigation efforts. Both Caputo and McCance-Katz suggested that the stay-at-home orders weren’t necessary and that they only exacerbated the mental toll the pandemic was causing to Americans.


Although public health experts have long noted that the lockdowns are indeed severe, they also acknowledged that they were necessary to curb the virulent spread of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Such movement restrictions and distancing measures have been largely effective in controlling outbreaks in countries around the world – with the exception of the United States, of course, which has spectacularly failed to manage the deadly epidemic.

However, Kabuto and Makans Katz dismiss the mitigation strategy as one that only the wealthy, who can easily stay at home, are promoting. People who say ‘It’s safer at home. “Stay home,” Caputo said. “People tend to be fairly wealthy.”

“Yes, it might be safer at home for them,” answered McCanns-Katz. “They go to a nice house, a big house with all the amenities.”

They went on to suggest that activities such as going to a game of soccer or the movies were primarily enjoyed by people from the “lower strata of our economic system” and that is why these activities were restricted. Meanwhile, “Rich people who have a house on the beach, they watch Netflix and every other streaming platform,” added Caputo. “People who are essential workers, like those who work in hospitals,“ don’t have access to these subscriptions, ”he said.

“And I’ll just say it,” McCanns Katz said shortly after. We shut down the entire country before the virus, in my opinion, had a chance to roam around the country. Why? ”She added that the stay-at-home orders are like using a“ sledgehammer when I think we need a scalpel. ”

Caputo agreed, “No doubt. You know what? For me, the damage is done.”

Death and despair

The two continue to discuss the impact of the epidemic on children, expressing disgust at suspending personal learning in many places to try to limit the spread of the disease. “What nonsense is it that somehow makes going back to school unsafe?” McCanns asked Katz after he indicated that most children with SARS-CoV-2 do not develop a serious illness. Although they noticed moments earlier that people in the “lower classes” often lived in more crowded, multi-generational homes, they failed to discuss the risks of children spreading the virus to family members and other people in their communities.

Caputo – who, as noted, has been interfering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s scientific reports about the pandemic – has moved to blame the US media for being “dishonest” and distort the public’s perception of the virus. He also blamed the media for “ousting the president” and “stomping” on optimism about COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. “I don’t think the American media is interested in public health information,” he said.

McCanns Katz replied, “I don’t, either.”

Towards the end, the McCanns Katz offered a lighter look. Although she speculated that “thousands” might die from the despair associated with the epidemic, she argued that Americans are resilient and that “despair will fade.”

However, Kabuto ended up on a darker and confusing note. Although he spent a large portion of the episode playing down the pandemic, he concluded by emphasizing the severity of COVID-19 and the number of deaths. He said, “Every morning I find myself, the first time I use my voice, talking about death.”

“We hear reports in our meetings … these people [with COVID-19]They drown in their fluids. Doctors have told me that is one of one’s deepest fears. And that the look on their faces when they are dying is just something that they cannot forget. These doctors just can’t forget it. And the way – as I speak – this is the first thing I talk about in the morning. “

According to a new report by PoliticoCaputo called an emergency staff meeting on Tuesday to apologize to HHS staff for his comments on the Facebook live video, in which he claimed the CDC was harboring a “resistance unit”. Some HHS employees told Politico that they got the impression that Caputo intends to step down.

To date, the United States has reported more than 6.5 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 195,000 deaths.

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