As strain on him intensified this spring and summer time, Dr. Redfield didn’t inform high aides that he was contemplating resigning, a former federal well being official mentioned. Instead, he would make variations of the identical remark: “As long as I’m here, with the time I have left, which may not be long, we’re going to try to do x, y and z,” the official recalled.
Known as “R3” by his employees — a reference to his initials — Dr. Redfield has not often been in Atlanta in the course of the pandemic, with high aides seeing him solely a dozen or so occasions. Often summoned to coronavirus process pressure conferences and congressional hearings, he as a substitute has stayed at his dwelling in Baltimore, the place he helped discovered and run a virology institute on the University of Maryland earlier than turning into C.D.C. director in 2018.
He was named to the job by Mr. Trump’s well being secretary, Alex M. Azar II, changing Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who resigned after six months on the job amid disclosures that she had purchased tobacco shares.
When he arrived on the C.D.C., one scientist there mentioned, many within the company had been relieved. They had feared Mr. Trump may appoint somebody overtly hostile to science, or an opponent of vaccines. But Dr. Redfield had no expertise in public well being or in working a big authorities company just like the C.D.C., with 11,000 workers. Nor is he an particularly good communicator.
“I don’t think he was the leader for this agency at this point in time,” mentioned Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, the chief director of the American Public Health Association, who has recognized Dr. Redfield since they served collectively within the Army a long time in the past. “I don’t know if anybody could have been.”
Now, lower than a month from the election, the query is whether or not the C.D.C. can get better. Dr. Foege refused to permit the chance that it couldn’t.
“They have to recover,” he mentioned. “The world needs a gold standard in public health.”
Noah Weiland contributed reporting.