Covid

Biden aides defend controversial Covid mask guidance change | Biden administration

This week’s surprising reversal of the instructions on how to wear masks for those vaccinated against Covid-19 was a “fundamental first step” to get the US back to normal, the head of the Centers for Control and Prevention of the United States stressed Diseases (CDC) on Sunday, as the agency stressed, continued criticism for the sudden and confusing advice.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky appeared on several talk shows on Sunday to emphasize that it is up to the individual to follow the guidelines issued on Thursday.

“This was not permission to drop masks for everyone everywhere. It was really like that [a] scientifically based individual assessment of your risk, ”Walensky told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“We ask people to be honest with themselves. If they are vaccinated and not wearing a mask, then they are safe. If they are not vaccinated and are not wearing a mask then they are not safe. “

A growing number of groups and health professionals have questioned the new guidelines, which reversed the CDC position that even those fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors, and came 48 hours after Walensky was in Congress on the matter had been attacked.

A number of mostly Republican-controlled states later said they were changing their mask mandates, and several large corporations, including Walmart and Starbucks, dropped them altogether.

The country’s largest union of nurses on Saturday suggested the CDC council was not based on science, saying that easing health protection measures would put patients and caregivers at risk.

Others criticized the timing of the new guidelines, as it wasn’t until this week that emergency clearances were issued to people aged 12-15 to receive the Pzifer BioNTech vaccine. Children under the age of 11 may not be able to get a vaccine for months.

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, health commentator Dr. Leana Wen, the CDC move was “sudden” and led to “increasing confusion”, especially among vulnerable groups.

“Let’s say you go to the grocery store,” Wen wrote. “It’s full and only a few people there are masked. Maybe everyone is vaccinated, but maybe not. What if you are vaccinated but not fully protected because you are immunocompromised?

“You can no longer rely on CDC rules to keep things safe. What if you don’t have childcare and had to bring your children with you? They didn’t choose not to stay vaccinated, the shots are not available to them. It is certainly not fair to put them in danger. “

Walensky admitted concerns but said some risk was inevitable once the US emerges from the pandemic.

“We knew there would be a time when the majority of Americans wanted to be vaccinated and the children were still out of the question,” Walensky told CNN’s State of the Union.

“This week we received the news that we can vaccinate our 12 to 15 year olds. We hope to have vaccines in even younger areas by fall, by the end of this year. We recognize the challenge of parents who cannot leave their children at home to go shopping. These children should continue to wear masks in these environments and do their best to keep their distance. These recommendations have not changed. “

She repeated her claim that it was “individual leadership”.

“I want to convey that we are not saying that everyone has to take off their mask when they are vaccinated,” she said. “It’s been 16 months since we told people to mask and it’s going to be a slow process.

“The other thing is that not every church is the same, not all churches have high vaccination rates. These decisions must be made at the community level. “

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the senior medical advisor to Joe Biden, told CBS’s Face the Nation that the revised guidelines were underpinned by “an accumulation of data,” including that vaccine efficacy proved to be “even better than clinical.” Studies “have shown.

He also said: “There have been a number of publications showing that the vaccine protects against even the variants in circulation, and we see that it is very unlikely that a vaccinated person, even if there is a breakthrough infection, someone else is transferred to this. “

Fauci was referring to eight vaccinated members of the New York Yankees baseball team who tested positive but showed no symptoms.

He seemed to acknowledge, however, that the sudden change in advice had been confusing. The CDC, Fauci said, “is going to come out very quickly with different types of guidelines, so people will be like, ‘Well, what about the workplace? What’s with it, what’s with it? ‘

“That will be cleared up pretty quickly, as I can imagine. Within a few weeks, you will be clearing up some of the real, understandable and reasonable questions people are asking. “

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Robert Dunfee