Quote Originally Posted by NBC News

Months of mixed messages, political pressure and public gaffes about Covid-19 have caused morale at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to turn "toxic," said four current and two former CDC staffers, with one saying the election could be a "tipping point" for a mass exodus if President Donald Trump wins.

"The house is not only on fire," said a veteran CDC staffer who did not want to be named for fear of retribution. "We're standing in ashes."

Current and former CDC employees told NBC News that career staffers are still struggling to influence key decisions on the pandemic as new daily Covid-19 cases soar nationwide, but are overruled by Trump appointees when politics intrudes.

Most recently, they said, they wanted to extend the "No Sail" order for cruise ships through February. It had been set to expire four days before the Nov. 3 election. Instead, they say Vice President Mike Pence's office pushed for the order to expire, which stands to benefit 21,000 cruise industry workers in the swing state of Florida.

The dispute between the White House and the CDC over the cruise ship order was first reported by ProPublica.

A White House official said that when the CDC proposed an extension to the "no sail" order it seemed "arbitrary" and "they provided no metrics or data as to why."

The White House official added that two or three weeks ago the vice president, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield hosted a call with the cruise lines to discuss their plan and "discussions about lifting no sail are currently in front of them, but no decision made yet.

The political pressure has taken its toll on CDC employees, said the current and former staffers. One current staffer said that during a recent Zoom call, a supervisor went so far as to instruct CDC staff to be loyal to the Constitution, not to the president.

Another current employee said: "I don't know if the damage to our reputation can be overcome with a new administration. I worry it's a permanent problem."

Itíll take a decade or more to recover from Trumpism. And thatís me being optimistic. Maybe we never do.