Infectious disease icon asks CDC director to expose White House, orchestrate his own firing

A former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health titan who led the eradication of smallpox asked the embattled, current CDC leader to expose the failed U.S. response to the new coronavirus, calling on him to orchestrate his own firing to protest White House interference.

Trump contradicted CDC director’s testimony to the Senate about importance of face masks

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Dr. William Foege, a renowned epidemiologist who served under Democratic and Republican presidents, detailed in a private letter he sent last month to CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield his alarm over how the agency has fallen in stature while the pandemic raged across America.

Foege, who has not previously been a vocal critic of the agency’s handling of the novel coronavirus, called on Redfield to openly address the White House’s meddling in the agency’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis and then accept the political sacrifice that would follow. He recommended that Redfield commit to writing the administration’s failures — and his own — so there was a record that could not be dismissed.



Robert R. Redfield wearing a suit and tie: In this Sept. 16, 2020, file photo Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield appears at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on a "Review of Coronavirus Response Efforts" on Capitol Hill in Washington.


© Andrew Harnik, AP
In this Sept. 16, 2020, file photo Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield appears at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on a “Review of Coronavirus Response Efforts” on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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“You could upfront, acknowledge the tragedy of responding poorly, apologize for what has happened and your role in acquiescing,” Foege wrote to Redfield. He added that simply resigning without coming clean would be insufficient. “Don’t shy away from the fact this has been an unacceptable toll on our country. It is a slaughter and not just a political dispute.”

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for Redfield’s response. Redfield, an HIV/AIDS expert and former military physician, lacked experience running a public health agency when Trump selected him to head the CDC in 2018.

White House spokesman Judd Deere did not respond to the contents of the letter but said in a statement that the CDC has not been compromised. “This dishonest narrative that the media and Democrats have created that politics is influencing decisions is not only false but is a danger to the American public,” Deere said.

MORE: How the CDC failed public health officials fighting the coronavirus

Foege’s Sept. 23 letter, which was obtained by USA TODAY and has not been previously reported, is a striking condemnation from a legendary public health figure who has spent decades helping prevent the spread of diseases while earning the respect of peers.

In an interview, Foege said he felt compelled to write to Redfield after the White House appointed Dr. Scott Atlas to the coronavirus task force, even though he is not an infectious disease expert.

The Washington Post and other outlets have reported that Atlas has endorsed the controversial strategy of herd immunity, although Atlas has denied doing so.

ICON Health & Fitness Announces $200 Million Growth Investment Led By L Catterton

Investment Will Further Accelerate Growth of Fitness Leader’s Connected Equipment and Industry-leading Subscription Technology Platform iFit

ICON Health & Fitness (“ICON”), the world leader in innovation, design and distribution of connected fitness equipment and software, today announced a $200 million growth investment led by L Catterton, the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm, and is joined by existing investor Pamplona Capital Management.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201005005720/en/

(Photo: Business Wire)

ICON owns established industry-leading fitness brands NordicTrack®, ProForm® and Freemotion®, which offer connected fitness membership services powered by iFit, the immersive live and on-demand streaming fitness and wellness media platform.

With revenue exceeding $1 billion in the last 12 months (ending September 30, 2020), ICON is the only company which creates connected fitness experiences across multiple brands, multiple product categories and all consumer fitness segments.

The investment will further accelerate ICON’s unique growth strategy of delivering its expansive range of interactive fitness products connected by iFit, the company’s patented content technology and media platform. With approximately 700,000 paid subscribers — and rapidly growing — iFit is enjoyed in the home, at the gym and on-the-go across ICON’s diverse range of products and partnerships.

Scott Watterson, Founder, Chairman and CEO of ICON said:

“Health and fitness have never been more important to consumers globally, and we are seeing explosive growth across our subscription software and fitness equipment businesses. We saw this fast-growing demand going into 2020, and this has accelerated sharply as people’s desire to stay healthy has intensified.

“We welcome L Catterton onboard at this incredibly exciting time in our company’s history. L Catterton has an exceptional history of success investing in consumer and fitness businesses. I look forward to working alongside Scott Dahnke and his team as we continue to accelerate growth across our various platforms and distribution channels.

“ICON reaches the fitness industry’s largest total addressable market in North America, Europe and around the world. The vast and expanding global health and fitness market presents a powerful platform for continued growth.

“This funding will further strengthen our leading position in connected fitness and deliver on our mission to help consumers of every demographic and fitness level pursue and achieve their health and fitness goals.”

Scott Dahnke, Global Co-CEO of L Catterton said:

“Over our 31-year history, L Catterton has had extensive experience partnering with leading fitness concepts and conducted proprietary research to understand what the consumer wants.

“We have long admired ICON as a pioneering health and fitness giant, with a core focus on technology, longstanding track record of innovation, and a proven, profitable growth model. As people around the world increasingly seek out new, immersive ways to exercise and stay healthy, ICON’s heritage, offerings, and scale are true differentiators.

“The company’s broad range of products across price points has democratized fitness, making it more accessible to everyone, everywhere. Their established and iconic brands such as NordicTrack and now increasingly iFit, with its significant subscriber growth, set ICON