Two-faced CDC Faces Backlash After Abrupt About-Face on Face Masks

Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool

On May 13, President Biden held a Rose Garden ceremony in which he proclaimed, “Today is a great day for America. If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. Get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do.”

That same day, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reiterated Biden’s pronouncement, saying, “We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

Walensky continued, “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

That was then.

This is now.

On July 27, the CDC issued the following guidance. Fully vaccinated people should “wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.”

And, “CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.”

Why the abrupt about-face by the CDC regarding face masks? The Delta variant, of course.

According to Walensky, “The vast majority of transmission is occurring in unvaccinated people and through unvaccinated people. But unlike the Alpha variant that we had back in May, where we didn’t believe that if you were vaccinated you could transmit further — this is different now with the Delta variant. And we’re seeing that now, infection is possible if you are a rare breakthrough infection, that you can transmit further which is the reason for the change.”

What Walensky failed to mention is that the Delta variant is more transmissible, but much less harmful than previous strains of COVID-19.

As reported by the New York Post Editorial Board, “On Wednesday, the Delta variant became America’s dominant COVID strain. Yet it’s no cause for panic: The numbers — especially in Britain, which Delta hit hard — show it causes far fewer hospitalizations and deaths, while vaccines remain highly effective against it.”

The Post Editorial Board added, “The seven-day average of new UK cases is above 25,000, the highest since late January, when the weekly average had just dropped from a peak of 50,000. But only 2,000 COVID cases are hospitalized, vs. nearly 40,000 in January. Daily deaths average under 20, vs. more than 1,000 in January.”

In other words, if you are fully vaccinated (or not), the Delta variant poses little threat to healthy individuals less than 65-years-old, without certain co-morbidities. So, why the backtracking on face masks?

Even more ludicrous, however, is the CDC’s recommendation that all students (and school personnel) wear face masks, regardless of vaccine status, for the upcoming school year.

We know for a fact, according to CDC data, that children are practically immune to COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

Per the CDC, 282 children (5-years-old to 18-years-old) have died of COVID-19. That is on par with annual child deaths from the flu.

So, the CDC advises all children wear face masks for several hours a day, even though COVID-19 poses basically no threat to them. Moreover, children rarely spread the disease.

On the other hand, wearing a dirty, sweaty face mask for hours on end five days per week poses an actual threat to children.

According to a recent study by the American Medical Association (AMA), “Most of the complaints reported by children can be understood as consequences of elevated carbon dioxide levels in inhaled air. This is because of the dead-space volume of the masks, which collects exhaled carbon dioxide quickly after a short time. This carbon dioxide mixes with fresh air and elevates the carbon dioxide content of inhaled air under the mask, and this was more pronounced in this study for younger children.”

This led the study’s authors to conclude, “Many governments have made nose and mouth covering or face masks compulsory for schoolchildren. The evidence base for this is weak. We suggest that decision-makers weigh the hard evidence produced by these experimental measurements accordingly, which suggest that children should not be forced to wear face masks.”

Unfortunately, this fell on deaf ears at the CDC.

But that is hardly surprising. Throughout the pandemic, the CDC has contradicted itself on several occasions.

The CDC has become politicized. In fact, we know that the American Federation of Teachers had a hand in crafting CDC guidance on school reopening plans, thanks to email exchanges made public.

The CDC has lost credibility. It no longer makes decisions based on sound science. It now makes decisions based on political pseudo-science.

Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.