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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Direct Robert Redfield has come under increased scrutiny from inside and outside the Trump administration as the agency tackles an expanding coronavirus outbreak, Politico reportedthis week.

The news outlet noted that it was CDC’s decision to leave Americans on a cruise ship that would later become the top source of U.S. coronavirus cases, and the agency is also responsible for providing test kits for the virus to health labs — dozens of which are still waiting for theirs to arrive.

But Redfield faced scrutiny even as President Donald Trump installed him as chief of the CDC back in 2018, largely regarding his religious views and how they might impact his work at the agency, as well as concerns over Redfield’s lack of qualifications.

Laurie Garrett, a former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted in anop-ed for CNN at the time that “Redfield's early engagement with the AIDS epidemic in the US in the 1980s and 90s was controversial.”

Garrett explained: “As an Army major at Walter Reed Medical Institute, he designed policies for controlling the disease within the US military that involved placing infected personnel in quarantine and investigating their pasts to identify and track possible sexual partners. Soldiers were routinely discharged and left to die of AIDS, humiliated and jobless, often abandoned by their families.”

Redfield also worked closely with the Christian organization Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy (ASAP) in the 1980s, she noted — a group which “maintained that AIDS was ‘God's judgment’ against homosexuals, spread in an America weakened by single-parent households and loss of family values.”

In his 1990 book, "Christians in the Age of AIDS," Redfield and his co-author W. Shepherd Smith, Jr. — who headed ASAP — “denounced distribution of sterile needles to drug users and condoms to sexually active adults, and described anti-discrimination programs as the efforts of ‘false prophets,’” Garrett wrote.

A couple of years later, Redfield and ASAP supported a House bill that would have subjected HIV positive individuals to “testing, loss of professional licenses and would have effectively quarantined them.”

Politico noted that Redfield was “panned by reproductive rights supporters and public health experts for advocating abstinence before marriage to stop HIV rather than tactics like providing free condoms” as Trump sought to place him at the head of the CDC.

Now, the agency is knee-deep in dealing with the coronavirus, and Redfield is not receiving rave reviews. Politico reported that inside the agency, “officials have complained that Redfield and CDC have been slow to resolve essential problems, like clarifying whether dozens of public health labs around the nation will soon have diagnostics capable of testing for coronavirus.”

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