CDC FOIA Update #4

This is the 4th, and unfortunately final, update to my saga of requesting records from the CDC regarding the handling of the COVID pandemic.

Last Friday, the analyst covering my case quoted me a whopping and exorbitant $976 for the processing of my request and gave me five days (until November 1) to either a) fully accept all responsibilities for paying every cent of those fees or b) narrow my request further from the last changes I made on August 17. I didn’t feel as if I could rightfully narrow my request any further without running the risk of losing the thing I started out looking for: the “science” behind the changes to the mask mandates and community levels and if there was any political pressure there. So, as of 4:38pm Eastern time, my request to CDC for “copies of all: 1. electronic mail communications between CDC leadership members spanning dates from Jan 20 and May 13, 2021, about scientific data used to justify the decision to remove the mask guidelines for vaccinated Americans. 2. electronic mail communications between CDC leadership members spanning dates from January 1 and March 4, 2022, about the development and implementation of the new COVID-19 Community Levels.” has been dropped, pending acceptance from my analyst.

Update 11/1/2022 at 1:06pm Eastern Time: My request has officially been administratively closed.

A heavily redacted and cropped version of the final letter from HHS and CDC, sent on November 1, 2022, which reads:

"Dear Derek Schmitz:

This letter is our final response to your attached narrowed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on August 17, 2022, assigned [REDACTED].

We have administratively closed your request because you have withdrawn your request in response to our October 27, 2022 letter."

I am furious that it ended like this. I gave this effort all I had to achieve one goal: find what the CDC is hiding from us. A lawyer friend of mine called the exorbitant fee his “absolute top, incandescent-rage level frustration with FOIA and its ilk” because the information I’m seeking is public information. I tried reaching around to journalists passionate about this stuff, but with the tight timetable (5 days, of which only 3 are working days) CDC put me on, I couldn’t pull it off.

And for that, I am sorry, not for how the system fucks normal people out of government knowledge, but for not being able to deliver on my promise to find what CDC is hiding.

If someone else wants to give it a shot, email me with the subject line “FOIA Revival”. I have all my documents, my request verbiage, the contact information for the top FOIA analyst at CDC, pretty much everything you need, except the money. There’s no way an 18-year-old relying on Social Security and a part-time job could put up nearly a grand for documents and processing.

I am so angry, practically seething, at the blatant censorship of data and public information by financial red tape I can’t even express it. But I have hope, that young naive hope that all us youngsters have, that this data and all the back-room, whispered emails about manufacturing the “COVID is over” rhetoric will come to light. And, I will do everything I can to help it get out.

Thank you all for your support through this endeavor, I hope you stick around!