CDC

Updated at 1:37 p.m. ET

Amid criticism from Democrats that politics may be guiding decisions at the nation's top health agencies, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration told Congress on Wednesday that a coronavirus vaccine would not be approved until it met "vigorous expectations" for safety and effectiveness.

A large group of outbreak specialists say there’s been a problematic silencing of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during this pandemic. 

The move came without much warning. 

“We were stunned,” Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho State epidemiologist, told the radio show Idaho Matters


At a time when the nation is desperate for authoritative information about the coronavirus pandemic, the country's foremost agency for fighting infectious disease outbreaks has gone conspicuously silent.

"I want to assure Americans that we have a team of public health experts," President Trump said at Tuesday evening's coronavirus task force briefing — a bit of reassurance that probably would not have been necessary if that briefing had included anyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that measles cases around the world increased by 31 percent from 2016 to 2017.

While the U.S. saw an increase of almost 40 percent during that period, only two states in the Mountain West region reported measles cases. Colorado had one each year, and Utah had no cases in 2016 and three the following year.

Lord Jim via Flickr Creative Commons

Cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped significantly in recent decades—in Wyoming and the rest of the country. That’s according to the results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey released last week. 

Last year, 17 percent of Wyoming high-schoolers reported regularly smoking cigarettes. That’s slightly above the national average, but down from 40 percent in 1991, when the survey began.

One of the government's top scientists says much more research is needed to determine the possible impacts of shale gas drilling on human health and the environment.

Dr. Christopher Portier of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says studies should include all the ways people can be exposed, such as through air, water, soil, plants and animals.

Portier says there isn't currently enough information to say with certainty whether shale gas drilling poses a threat to public health.