The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are letting most Americans take their masks off for a little bit, as a treat.
On Friday, the public health agency released a new COVID Community Levels tool that measures the severity of the pandemic by COVID’s burden on the hospital system, rather than the number of cases. That change in measurement means the CDC is now classifying about 70 percent of counties in the country at low or medium threat of COVID. In those areas, the agency is no longer recommending people wear a mask indoors.
These new guidelines don’t change the requirements that people wear masks on well-ventilated airplanes or near-empty buses and subways. The agency is still also recommending that people, including school children in K-12 schools, wear masks indoors in the 30 percent of counties where the risk of COVID-19 is ranked as high.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had been stubbornly refusing to revisit its nonsensical masking guidance long after most states had abandoned it, magically discovered new science just days before a desperate President Biden is set to give his State of the Union address.
Not only was this predictable, but it was predicted by me in this space a few weeks ago. While the CDC would no doubt argue that the situation is better now and so it supports more de-masking, NBC had previously reported that the White House was pressuring the CDC to offer new guidance ahead of the speech. With the crisis unfolding in Ukraine on top of Biden’s mounting political problems, he was desperate to be able to cling to something.
Under the new guidance, the CDC is shifting to another arbitrary set of thresholds to determine whether a given county is low/medium/or high-risk; only now, more weight will be given to hospital capacity. The new system doesn’t make much sense either, because there is no strong evidence to support the idea that mandating masks in indoor settings would lower the number of people hospitalized with Covid.
So on the one hand, this is good news because it will tangibly allow masks to come off the faces of millions of children who live in areas that have been religiously following CDC guidance. But it also leaves the door open to a permanent masking regime, if we assume that there will be future surges of different variants of Covid.
The timing of the announcement should disabuse people of the notion that CDC decisions are driven by anything more than politics.
it’s time [for the Covidians] to pretend that all the mitigations, impositions, and pseudoscience we pushed worked, claim victory, tell everyone we saved them, and move on.
they are already pushing the data off “cases” and onto “hospitalizations” and then changing they way they count hospitalization. they will alter the data and use it to claim that their rain dance brought the monsoon.
Hannah Cox argues that “[i]t’s long past time for Uber & Lyft to end their idiotic mask requirements.” (HT Manny Klausner) (DBx: I agree with Ms. Cox that these requirements are idiotic. Whenever I now use Uber or Lyft, I immediately tell my driver to feel free to remove his or her mask; I’ll not mind. I estimate that on about 65 percent of occasions they do so. And whenever they do so, I remove my mask. The maskless rides are always more pleasant than the masked ones.)
spiked: Did our [the British] government ever properly consider the harms of lockdown?
Woolhouse: Advisers like myself were told at the time that these things were being considered. But like you and like everyone else, I never saw the evidence. Over the past two years we’ve all seen incredibly detailed epidemiological data, public-health data, NHS data, epidemiological modelling of what might happen. But I’ve never seen anything like that for the economic harms, the educational harms, the knock-on harms to the health service, the mental-health harms. Where were all those projections? I never saw them as an individual or as a scientist or as a government adviser. And that seems to me to be quite extraordinary. It’s a routine procedure in government to do some kind of impact assessment of any kind of major measure you’re going to introduce, whatever it may be. And we didn’t do it for lockdown. So these harms went unquantified. And therefore, I fear, they went unconsidered as well.
Recurring lockdowns imposed across Europe to curb Covid-19 were neither “necessary” nor “defensible”, Sweden’s official inquiry into its handling of the pandemic has concluded.
In its final report, the country’s Coronavirus Commission strongly supported Sweden’s pandemic strategy, concluding that the decision to rely primarily on “advice and recommendations which people were expected to follow voluntarily” had been “fundamentally correct”.
The decision not to impose mandatory restrictions meant that Swedes “retained more of their personal freedom than in many other countries,” the report concludes.
In addition, the commission writes that it is “not convinced that extended or recurring mandatory lockdowns, as introduced in other countries, are a necessary element in the response to a new, serious epidemic outbreak”.
Several countries which did impose lockdowns, it notes, had “significantly worse outcomes” than Sweden, while the restriction of individual freedom was “hardly defensible other than in the face of very extreme threats”.
They damaged confidence. They damaged speech. They damaged trust. They damaged science. They damaged development. They damaged youth. They damaged normalcy. They damaged learning. They damaged democracy. They damaged truth. Don’t let them damage children further via distraction!