The agency was struggling with one of its most important duties:
keeping track of Americans suspected of having the novel coronavirus.
It had "an ongoing issue" with organizing
— and sometimes flat-out losing
— forms sent by local agencies about people thought to be infected.
The email listed job postings for people who could track or retrieve this paperwork.
"Help needed urgently," the CDC wrote.
The documents — mostly emails — provide a behind-the-scenes peek
into the messy early stages of the U.S. response to the coronavirus,
revealing an antiquated public health system trying to adapt on the fly.
What comes through clearly is confusion,
as the CDC underestimated the threat from the virus and
stumbled in communicating to local public health officials what should be done.
"There seems to be a communications blackout on this end,"
the program manager wrote,
"Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to your questions,"
responded a CDC staffer, apologizing for the lack of information.
"Thank you," the Nevada program manager replied. "It's good to be confused together."