The CDC’s mask guidance is a mess. Biden needs to clean it up

By | May 16, 2021

Leana S. Wen writes:

Last Thursday’s abruptly announced guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has devolved into a giant mess. Governors and mayors were caught by surprise, leading to a flurry of rapid changes and a patchwork of disparate regulations across the country. Businesses found themselves scrambling without the tools they need to relax restrictions for the vaccinated while protecting the ­unvaccinated.

While many people happily shed their masks and celebrated the apparent end of the pandemic, others are concerned that with only 37 percent of the country fully vaccinated, this relaxation is premature and could lead to a resurgence of ­infections.

If such a head-scratching turn of events had occurred under former president Donald Trump, the administration surely would have been blamed for the lack of coordination and resulting widespread confusion. The Biden team has excelled on many aspects of the covid-19 response, but this was a major blunder that threatens to set back much of the progress made. President Biden needs to fix it, urgently.

Most important, Biden should own that it was a mistake to cede this level of responsibility to the CDC. After watching Trump repeatedly sideline the agency, seemingly for political reasons, the Biden administration understandably has wanted to elevate the CDC’s role. But there’s a big difference between listening to scientists and ceding policymaking to one scientific organization. Trump supporters might complain about a double standard, but intervening in this case wouldn’t be about politics; it would be for the public good. [Continue reading…]

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