Paul Alexander, a Trump appointee, urged senior officials to let “infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged [people]” get infected with COVID-19 to create “herd immunity,” according to emails obtained by the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus.
The revelation comes on the heels of the discovery by the subcommittee that CDC Director Robert Redfield allegedly directed his underlings to delete another Alexander email warning the CDC to keep quiet about COVID-19 spread among children because it was damaging to the administration.
In the new tranche of emails, Alexander, who served as a senior adviser to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, urged Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, Food and Drug Administrator Stephen Hahn and Redfield to allow mass infections.
Alexander was a top deputy to Caputo, the longtime Trump hype man and HHS official, and both men left the department in mid-September.
In a series of emails to Caputo and other HHS officials, he advocates “locking granny down” but letting young people roam free and get infected.
“It may be that it will be best if we open up and flood the zone and let kids and young folk get infected as we acutely lock down the elderly and at risk folk,” he wrote.
In another set of emails to the HHS group, Alexander acknowledges the catastrophe that could develop if his herd immunization plan went sideways.
“Only if the young who are getting infected with the increased testing and relaxed controls now…if they show serious illness needing ICU and oxygen, and die, then we know this virus has mutated lethally,” he said, adding “god forbid this ever happens.”
In another email to Redfield, Alexander speculated that it was wrong to send college kids home — better to have them stay at school and get infected than bring it home to their older relatives.
Alexander also displayed his propensity to suppress information from the CDC that would be politically damaging to the Trump administration.
In an email to HHS and CDC officials, Alexander fretted about the political ramifications of a CDC statement about the pandemic’s disproportionate damage to minority communities.
“If the communication is left with just the statement that minority groups are at higher risk then on its face this is very accurate, however, in this election cycle that is the kind of statement coming from CDC that the media and Democrat antagonists will use against the president,” he wrote in late May. He added that that message lacked the context that minority communities are actually suffering more because of “decades of Democrat neglect.”
He also repeatedly took aim at scientists including Dr. Anthony Fauci, at one point saying that someone should “stop Fauci from talking…he is confusing people.”
In a different email, he broadened that attack to all “left scientists.”
“The media and left have help [sic] COVID proliferate,” he wrote. “They want to destroy the nation and people’s lives just to make the President look bad…saving lives is not their aim…winning at all costs.”
HHS maintains that Alexander, who left his post in mid-September, did not meaningfully affect how the department addressed the pandemic.
“His emails absolutely did not shape department strategy,” an HHS spokesperson told TPM. “Dr. Paul Alexander previously served as a temporary Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and is no longer employed at the Department.”
The coronavirus subcommittee obtained the new documents as part of their investigation into political interference at the CDC by HHS officials. The last revelation, that Redfield called for Alexander’s email to be deleted, prompted HHS to cancel a series of planned interviews after months of declining to turn over documents and make personnel available, according to the subcommittee.
“The documents obtained by the Select Subcommittee show a pernicious pattern of political interference by Administration officials,” wrote chairman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) in a Wednesday statement. “As the virus spread through the country, these officials callously wrote, ‘who cares’ and ‘we want them infected.’”
Clyburn continued that the new documents only reinforced the need for HHS to release documents and witnesses to his committee.
“Unless the Administration abandons this flagrant obstruction, I will be forced to start issuing subpoenas,” he warned.