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New CDC Guidance

My first reaction to the CDC announcement was surprise, and then happiness. But of course I did think of questions and concerns. And when I read that the respected Doctor Leana Wen said today that she thought that the CDC had done an abrupt about-face, and went too far, that is certainly cause for concern. We wish that there were not, but of course there always is, with the virus.

RD can shed much more light on this than I can. My layperson thoughts on it, are, where is the allowance for possible new variants? I understand that CDC seems very confident that a fully vaccinated person is protected against any current strains of the virus in the United States. But what if a new variant comes in, as is probably likely, particularly with the dreadful surges in India and other places? Won’t some of those inevitably come here? And if virtually everyone is going around without a mask, won’t that create a very dangerous situation, with a possible immediate spread of the virus to even vaccinated people who thought they were safe?

And then of course there is the language about “most situations.” It is safe not to wear a mask if fully vaccinated, except in “certain situations.” I saw some interviews of Rochelle Walensky and other doctors. They were questioned about possible situations. The general answers were that, it is probably okay not to wear a mask at a baseball game, but might be advisable at a large music concert. It is also advised if you are on public transportation. So how can someone accurately identify when it is safe and when it is not? If it is not certain, then why lift the restrictions in a rather vague way?

I would love for everything to go back to normal in regard to masks and the danger of COVID. I am not sure that we are there yet. There are many people yet unvaccinated, and many who simply refuse to do it, mostly because they are idiots or jerks. I do not feel safe walking outside without a mask, and I wish I should be. I wish that medical experts could say with certainty that we are completely safe to do that, if vaccinated. But I do not hear that.

And we know there will be more variants. And they don’t know that the vaccines are effective against those. How do we find out? Hopefully not by trial and error.

I had written about “risk aversion and risk tolerance” a while ago. If someone told you that if you were fully vaccinated, and did not wear a mask, your chances of contracting COVID were, say, one in a thousand, would you feel very safe? One in ten thousand? How much risk would one be willing to take, for the freedom to stop wearing masks?

I would take very little; I would rather wear the mask, until I hear that there are so many people vaccinated, that it is almost impossible for the virus to be transmitted. Some think that these new guidelines will make it even harder to get there. Some think that it might provide incentives to be vaccinated, but judging from what we’ve seen so far, I don’t think that those who refused to be vaccinated will now decide to do so. I wish that it were otherwise, but we have seen enough of these people and their proud refusal to follow health guidelines, in the name of “liberty,” and, “we don’t want any liberals telling us what to do,” to have no confidence in their rationality at all.

Was CDC under political pressure? Not from the BIden Administration. President Biden seemed surprised and overjoyed at their announcement, and he is straightforward and honest, I am sure of that. Pressure from Republicans in Congress? Maybe. Businesses? Certainly, but they have withstood that for a year. But why is Dr. Wen so concerned that this is going too far? Whom can we confidently listen to? And has the damage already been done with Republicans in the Senate throwing off their masks, and McConnell saying, “Free at last!”? These are questions which we certainly hope will be answered, and in a way which will legitimately make us all feel better.