Who needs coronavirus tests when we have a 450 page communications manual?

In the fight against the coronavirus, the Washington Post thinks public trust is “the most powerful weapon officials possess,” and it is outraged that Trump is “eroding” public trust by failing to follow CDC guidelines about how to talk to the public.

[C]ommunication that is delivered early, accurately and credibly is the strongest medicine in the government’s arsenal.

But the Trump administration’s zigzagging, defensive, inconsistentmessages about the novel coronavirus continued Friday, breaking almost every rule in the book and eroding the most powerful weapon officials possess: Public trust.

After disastrous communications during the 2001 anthrax attacks — when white powder in envelopes sparked widespread panic — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a 450-page manual outlining how U.S. leaders should talk to the public during crises. …

“Sometimes it seems like they have literally thrown out the book,” said Joshua Sharfstein, a former top FDA official and Johns Hopkins University professor who is using the CDC manual to teach a crisis communication class. “We’re studying what to do — and at times seeing what not to do — on the same day.” … 

For three years, the Trump administration has often taken a hostile stance to science and its practitioners, but health crisis experts say it’s not too late and the fruits of their research — like the CDC’s 450-page manual — are waiting, untapped, to serve as a road map to help leaders navigate the growing pandemic. …

Oh, yeah. A 450-page communications manual, that’s our most powerful weapon against coronavirus. Thank God for the CDC!

Jon Guze / Director of Legal Studies

Jon Guze is the Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over twent...

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