Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is defying the latest Covid restrictions promoted by the Biden administration, while simultaneously battling local Florida school districts and hospitals which have challenged the governor’s edict against the imposition of new indoor mask wearing and vaccine mandates.
Despite a sharp recent increase in new Covid cases and hospitalizations in Florida, especially among the unvaccinated, due to the rapid spread of the delta variant of the virus, DeSantis rejects the new guidelines issued by the CDC calling for mask-wearing by both students and teachers in the classroom, regardless of their vaccination status. He contends that masks pose a greater threat than the delta variant to the health and wellbeing of Floridians — especially for young schoolchildren, who have a natural immunity to the virus.
An executive order signed by DeSantis last week does not explicitly prohibit the mask mandates which have already been approved by several local Florida school boards, but it does allow parents to opt out, giving them the final say as to whether their child would have to wear a face covering in school. No child would be prohibited from wearing a mask in school if they choose to, but the executive order does say that the state could withhold public funds from “noncompliant school boards” that violate the provisions of the executive order.
In the face of continued resistance to his order from local school boards, DeSantis instructed the state Department of Education to make school tuition vouchers available to parents who want to transfer their children in those districts to private and parochial schools which do not require the wearing of masks. As the dispute over his ban against a mask-wearing mandate with local school boards continued this week, DeSantis publicly threatened to withhold the salaries of school board members who continue to defy him.
He warned that school board members and superintendents who refuse to obey his executive order will face financial consequences. “The State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law,” DeSantis declared.
BIDEN ESCALATED THE DISPUTE
The dispute over school mask mandates took on nationwide proportions last week after President Biden publicly condemned DeSantis and Texas Republican Governor Gregg Abbott for “standing in the way” of the new CDC guidelines designed to bring the spike in delta variant infections under control. DeSantis responded by accusing Biden and his administration of seeking to impose unnecessary new vaccine mandates and mask-wearing requirements to restrict the freedoms of Florida’s citizens and the wellbeing of its schoolchildren, as part of his effort to turn America into a “bio-medical security state.”
When he announced the executive order on July 31, DeSantis declared, “The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day. Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children.”
Florida never instituted a statewide mask mandate. Some mayors imposed local mask mandates last year during previous peaks in new infections. With the latest surge in new cases due to the delta variant, some Florida municipalities have reinstated mask-wearing rules in government buildings and mandated vaccines for all their employees.
DeSantis has consistently urged all adult Floridians to get vaccinated. Currently, about 49 percent of Florida residents are fully vaccinated and 59 percent have received at least one shot, which is roughly in line with the national average. DeSantis has argued that prioritizing vaccinations for older people, as his administration did, has reduced the death toll. So has the availability of effective treatments for some Covid patients, such as monoclonal antibodies. As a result, Governor DeSantis allowed the state of emergency that was declared last year in Florida to deal with the start of the pandemic to expire in June, and he still does not believe that its renewal is justified.
“We knew this [Covid] is something that you’re going to have to live with,” DeSantis said last week, articulating a sentiment that many public health officials have adopted in light of the worldwide spread of the virus, making it virtually impossible to permanently eradicate.
DESANTIS VERBALLY DUELS WITH BIDEN
Early last week, President Biden publicly lectured Governors DeSantis and Abbott without mentioning them by name. “Please help,” the president said. “If you’re not going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing.”
Biden press secretary Jen Psaki attacked the motives of the Republican governors for resisting the new Covid restrictions with this cutting comment: “Leaders are going to have to choose whether they’re going to follow public health guidelines or they’re going to follow politics.”
DeSantis responded at a previously scheduled press conference on Florida’s economy the next day with a blistering critique of Biden’s Covid policies since becoming president in January.
“Joe Biden has taken to himself to single out Florida over Covid,” DeSantis said. “This is a guy who ran for president saying he was going to ‘shut down the virus’ — and what has he done? He’s imported more virus from around the world by having a wide-open southern border. He’s facilitating. Whatever variants are around the world, they’re coming across that southern border. He’s not shutting down the virus, he’s helping to facilitate it.”
PUTTING THE POWER IN THE HANDS OF PARENTS
With regard to the issue of requiring schoolchildren to wear masks in their classrooms, DeSantis said, “I want to empower parents to be able to make the best decisions they can for the wellbeing of their children.”
He also said parents are in the best position to evaluate “the effect that this would have on their children.”
During a speech DeSantis delivered the previous week in Salt Lake City, he said, “It’s not healthy for these students to be sitting there all day, six-year-old kids in kindergarten covered in masks.”
The Florida governor cited a study by Brown University researcher Emily Oster that did not find “a correlation between mask mandates and Covid rates” in schools in Florida, New York and Massachusetts.
He also claimed Biden wants kindergartners to wear masks and the government to enforce it. “He [Biden] thinks that should be a decision for the government. Well I can tell you in Florida, the parents are going to make that decision,” DeSantis said.
He also stood firm against vaccine mandates, claiming Biden “rejects science” because he denies that people who recover from Covid have long-lasting immunity.
“His vision is, just like in New York City, restaurants should ban young kids because they cannot be vaccinated. Law-abiding citizens have to show proof of their medical records to go to the gym or attend an event? He [Biden] wants that! But if you want to vote,” DeSantis added, “he thinks it’s too much of a burden to show a picture ID.”
DeSantis said that Americans must now choose whether to have a “free society or a bio-medical security state” and declared that Florida will remain a “free state. People are going to be free to choose to make their own decisions.”
DESANTIS WILL STAND IN BIDEN’S WAY
In a defiant response to Biden’s call for him to stand aside, DeSantis declared: “If you’re coming after the rights of parents in Florida? I’m standing in your way. If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m gonna stand in your way and stand up for the kids in Florida. If you’re trying to restrict people and impose mandates and ruin their jobs and livelihood, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way. I am standing for the people of Florida.”
In conclusion, DeSantis demanded that Biden respond to his complaint: “Why don’t you do your job? Why don’t you get this border secure? And until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about Covid from you.”
In a tweet responding to DeSantis’ remarks, Jen Psaki noted that “23% of new Covid hospitalizations in the US are in Florida, and their hospitals are being overwhelmed again.” However, Psaki failed to mention that about 95 percent of those hospitalizations are people who are unvaccinated. But she cynically expressed the “hope” that DeSantis would join the Biden administration in its fight against the pandemic.
When a reporter asked Psaki if Biden had spoken to DeSantis about the application of the CDC’s Covid guidelines to Florida, she responded, “If we thought it would make a difference, I’m sure he would.”
The next day, when asked about DeSantis’ criticism, Biden quipped: “Governor who?”
“I’m not surprised that Biden doesn’t remember me,” DeSantis responded when he heard of Biden’s remark. “The question is, what else has he forgotten? He’s forgotten about the crisis at the southern border. He’s forgotten about inflation. He’s forgotten about demonstrators fighting for freedom down in Cuba.”
REJECTING “MEDIA HYSTERIA”
DeSantis rejects what he calls “media hysteria” over the rising number of Covid cases in his state, and insists that Florida hospitals have sufficient capacity to manage the current surge in cases, in part, by setting up temporary beds in cafeterias and auditoriums to handle the overflow and by deferring non-emergency procedures. Deaths in Florida due to the delta variant have also remained much lower than during past Covid peaks.
DeSantis insists that his approach in dealing with the virus by prioritizing vaccines for high risk seniors will ensure that hospitalizations and deaths during the current Covid wave will not reach the catastrophic peak levels of previous waves.
DeSantis reopened Florida’s economy last spring after the first Covid wave subsided, and kept it that way, despite subsequent surges. The remaining restrictions in Florida were canceled once the vaccine became widely available earlier this year, allowing life in Florida to begin to look normal again much sooner than in other parts of the country.
LEARNING TO LIVE WITH THE VIRUS
Despite the current spike, DeSantis remains committed to the principle of enabling life in Florida to remain normal, and allowing its citizens to make their own decisions about whether to adopt mask wearing, social distancing, and other Covid precautions. His argument is that sooner or later, we will all have to learn how to coexist with the coronavirus which, like the flu, is unlikely ever to be fully eradicated.
That virus coexistence strategy behind DeSantis’ policy is still highly controversial conclusion, and has been challenged by the Biden administration, as well as many liberal Democrats and other special interest groups which are still are pushing the zero-Covid risk approach despite its many social, educational, and economic costs.
Previously, DeSantis successfully sued the CDC over its requirement that cruise ship passengers be vaccinated, even though some of the cruise lines wanted to keep the mandate in place, to reassure their passengers. DeSantis also opposes mandating vaccines for hospital workers, saying it would only make the current staff shortages even worse. Nevertheless, some of Florida’s largest hospitals have announced their adoption of such mandates.
COVID BATTLES IN THE COURTS
DeSantis’ ban on vaccine passports was temporarily blocked by US District Judge Kathleen Williams over the weekend in response to a lawsuit filed by the Norwegian Cruise Line, which seeks to require coronavirus vaccines for all cruise ship guests and crew members, exempting the company from a Florida law championed by DeSantis that would have fined the cruise company for requiring vaccines. Lawyers for the cruise line argued that without the judge’s order, the company would “find itself either on the wrong side of health and safety … or else on the wrong side of Florida law.”
Several local Florida school districts, including that of Broward County, the second-largest in the state, have openly defied the DeSantis ban on masking requirements in public schools for the new school year. School board officials in Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, and Leon County, which includes the state capital of Tallahassee, have also announced plans to impose mask mandates in their schools, with the support of the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union.
This revolt at the school board level has prompted DeSantis to offer parents who do not want their child wearing masks in the classroom state-funded tuition vouchers they can use to enroll their child in one of the private schools which do not require masks.
Florida’s Board of Education announced a new rule which says that any public-school student who is subject to “Covid harassment” — which can include mask-wearing and Covid testing requirements — is eligible for a Hope Scholarship, which would allow the child to transfer to a private school or a public school in a different district at state expense.
NATIONAL TEACHERS UNION BACKING THE NEW MASK MANDATE
The liberal pushback against DeSantis’ policy against renewed coronavirus restrictions in public schools was reinforced over the weekend by Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers.
In an NBC news interview, Weingarten declared her union’s support for vaccine mandates for teachers to protect students, especially those under 12 who are not old enough to be inoculated. Weingarten also said that her union, which played a key role in forcing public schools across the country to remain closed during the past school year, will “reconsider” its stance that supported only voluntary vaccinations for its members.
The same legal and policy battle over the proper approach to take toward the current wave of Covid is also being fought in other states across the country. An Arkansas judge last week temporarily blocked the enforcement of a state ban on masks for government entities. The state legislature had put the prohibition in place in April. The mask ban was challenged in court by an Arkansas school district where more than 900 staff members and students are now in quarantine because of a coronavirus outbreak.
In Louisiana, where the delta variant is surging, Republican Governor John Bel Edwards temporarily reinstated a statewide indoor mask mandate for all people over the age of five. The temporary indoor mask mandate, which will remain in effect until at least September 1, also applies to K-12 schools, universities, and other higher education institutions in Louisiana. In addition, organizers of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival canceled the October event “as a result of the current exponential growth of new Covid cases in New Orleans and the region.”
FAUCI SAYS BOOSTER SHOTS WILL BE COMING SOON
In a series of Sunday news interviews, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and President Biden’s chief Covid advisor, said the US would probably soon begin administering booster coronavirus vaccine shots to Americans with compromised immune systems.
“People who have transplants, people who are on cancer chemotherapy, people who have immune mediated diseases that require immuno-suppression. … We need to look at them in a different light,” Fauci said on CNN. “We will almost certainly be boosting those people before we boost the general population that’s been vaccinated. We should be doing that reasonably soon.”
For generally healthy vaccinated people, Fauci said that health experts would continue monitoring “very carefully” the durability of vaccine protection before making a final decision on booster shots. The current CDC guidance says that “the need for and timing of Covid-19 booster doses have not been established and are not recommended at this time.”
San Francisco announced last week that it would begin to “accommodate special requests” from those who have taken the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to receive “a single supplemental dose with an mRNA vaccine” such as Pfizer or Moderna, but only after consultation with a health-care provider.
“This is an accommodation that is expected to be of interest to a small minority of J&J vaccines,” the San Francisco Department of Public Health said in a statement.
However, the World Health Organization last week called for an international moratorium on booster shots until at least September, because billions of people in countries around the world have not yet received their first shot.
In a separate interview on NBC, Dr. Fauci said he was hopeful that the FDA would grant full approval to the Pfizer vaccine by the end of August. So far, the FDA has granted only emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The limited FDA endorsement has lent some people to fear that the vaccines may not be entirely safe.
DESANTIS HAS BECOME A CONSERVATIVE HERO
DeSantis has publicly rejected Fauci and his approach as overly cautious and ultimately counterproductive. The Florida governor’s refusal to be intimidated by the tidal wave of criticism of his voluntary approach to dealing with the Covid threat by President Biden and the liberal media establishment has made DeSantis a conservative hero. By giving parents the right to choose whether their children should wear masks in school, and outlawing the use of “vaccine passports” which would turn the unvaccinated into isolated social pariahs, DeSantis is giving voice to the fears of those who believe that such measures are a serious infringement on the individual civil liberties of every American.
DeSantis is clearly speaking for tens of millions of vaccinated Americans, across party lines, who no longer can accept the government’s health advice at face value. They now prefer to make their own decisions about whether they and their children will put their masks back on in public.
If his bold approach to the normalization of daily life in Florida in the face of the current Covid surge proves to be right, DeSantis will strongly reinforce his current position as the fastest rising star on the national Republican scene.
SENATOR RAND PAUL IS “FED UP” WITH COVID MANDATES
DeSantis is not alone in rejecting the latest CDC Covid mandates. In an interview on Fox News, Rand Paul, the Republican-Libertarian senator from Kentucky, advised parents who share his view that schoolchildren should not be required to wear masks in the classroom is to “resist. They can’t arrest us all. They can’t keep all your kids home from school. They can’t keep every government building closed — although I’ve got a long list of ones they should.
“We don’t have to accept the mandates, lockdowns, and harmful policies of the petty tyrants and feckless bureaucrats. We can simply say no, not again.”
Senator Paul message to President Biden was, “we will not accept your agencies’ mandates or your reported moves toward a lockdown. No one should follow the CDC’s anti-science mask mandates. And if you want to shutdown federal agencies again, some of which aren’t even back to work fully, I will stop every bill coming through the Senate with an amendment to cut their funding if they don’t come to work. No more!”
Senator Paul’s message to local bureaucrats and union bosses was “we will not allow you to do more harm to our children again this year. Children are not at any more risk from Covid than they are for the seasonal flu. Every adult who works in schools has either had the vaccine or had their chance to. There is no reason for mask mandates, part time schools, or any lockdown measures.
“Children are falling behind in school, and are being harmed physically and psychologically by the tactics you have used to keep them from the classroom last year. We won’t allow it again.”
Echoing the policies already adopted by Governor DeSantis, Senator Paul added, “If a school system attempts to keep the children from full-time, in-person school, I will hold up every bill with two amendments. One to defund them, and another to allow parents the choice of where the money goes for their child’s education.”
Paul then explained the source of his frustration. “Do I sound fed up to you? That’s because I am. I’m not a career politician. I’ve practiced medicine for 33 years. I graduated from Duke Medical School, worked in emergency rooms, studied immunology and virology, and ultimately chose to become a surgeon.
“We are at a moment of truth and a crossroads. Will we allow these people to use fear and propaganda to do further harm to our society, economy, and children? I have been telling everyone for a year now that Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health officials were not following science, and I’ve been proven right time and time again.
“But I’m not the only one who is fed up. I can’t go anywhere these days, from work, to events, to airports and Ubers, restaurants and stores, without people coming up to me thanking me for standing up for them. For standing up for actual science. For standing up for freedom. For standing against mandates, lockdowns, and bureaucratic power grabs. I think the tide has turned, and more and more people are willing to stand up. I see stories from across the country of parents standing up to teacher unions and school boards. . .
“We are at a moment of truth and a crossroads. Will we allow these people to use fear and propaganda to do further harm to our society, economy, and children? Or will we stand together and say, absolutely not. Not this time. I choose freedom.”
BIDEN’S COVID MESSAGING PROBLEM
Meanwhile the Biden has continued to send a mixed and constantly changing message to the American people as to the effectiveness of the current Covid vaccines, and whether they provide the near perfect protection against breakthrough infections which Biden had promised to deliver.
The president repeated that promise from the White House as recently as August 3, when he emphatically stated, “The best line of defense against the virus is the vaccine. It’s as simple as that. Period.”
Biden then emphasized, “Folks, this is isn’t (not a typo) about politics. The virus doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. This is about life and death. Life and death.”
But that is clearly not the reality, as Biden’s verbal jousting with Governors DeSantis and Abbott makes crystal clear. Biden and the liberal Democrats have now abandoned any pretense of pursuing bipartisan agreement and cooperation with Republicans on the handling of the pandemic and have doubled down on an approach which relies on mask wearing and other failed forms of government coercion which unconstitutionally restrict individual freedoms.
According to liberal journalist Matt Taibbi, the only way that Democrats were able to regain political power in last November’s election was by “using the media to declare an ongoing state of emergency.” He also notes that the left’s ability to hang on to that power is by doing everything within its power to extend that state of emergency indefinitely, because “the Democratic establishment knows it has no argument for power beyond not being Donald Trump.” Taibbi is one of several respected liberal journalists who have lost their jobs in the mainstream media after being ostracized by the progressive cancel culture for insisting on reporting the truth as they see it.
BIDEN AND HARRIS WERE FIRST TO CHALLENGE THE VACCINES
Writing on his blog, Taibbi points out the logical contortions necessary to keep that artificial atmosphere of fear alive are now glaring. For example, last year, when the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed was developing the Covid vaccines at record speed, Joe Biden was one of the skeptics questioning their effectiveness. He explained that his doubts did not originate from “the usual anti-vaccine crowd. People are losing faith in what the president says.”
Taibbi observes that if anyone else but Trump had been president, “the storylines then would have been about a heroic cutter of red tape who pulled out the stops to get shots in arms. Not so with Trump, whose supporters were explicitly told [by his Democrat critics] that their man was rushing a dangerous product to market.”
As a result, the liberal media’s attitude towards the vaccines while they were being developed in 2020 was deliberately poisoned as part of the politically driven anti-Trump narrative. Many Trump members still remember Vice President Kamala Harris insulting comment last October 7 when two Covid vaccines were in the final stages of FDA approval. “If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it,” Harris said. Biden said something similar. Now Biden and those same liberal media elites feign surprise that such skeptical rhetoric has undermined the faith of so many Trump voters in the safety and effectiveness of those vaccines.
Another public relations blunder by the Biden administration and its supporters in the liberal media is the habit of disparaging those hesitant to take the vaccine. Calling them stupid and selfish is not an effective way to change their minds. Explaining why Biden’s nationwide vaccination campaign has stalled, Ohio Republican senatorial hopeful J.D. Vance told Fox News, “It never works when you try to insult people into doing what you want them to do.”
Yet instead of seeking to understand the source of the stubborn resistance to the vaccine from about one-quarter of America’s population, the Biden administration and the liberals are doubling down on their campaign of repression and coercion to force compliance.
VACCINE MANDATE WOULD HURT MINORITIES MOST
On August 5, the Washington Post reported that the Biden administration is considering withholding federal funds from “long-term-care facilities, cruise ships and universities” that don’t enforce vaccine mandates.
But it is hard to believe that the Biden administration would implement such a policy by instituting a requirement for “vaccine passports” which would disproportionately punish the poor and members of minority communities.
According to an August 4 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Black and Hispanic people remain less likely than their White counterparts to have received a vaccine.” For example, in New York City, just 31 percent of blacks have been vaccinated.
Boston’s black mayor, Kim Janey, said that requiring individuals to present a “vaccine mandate” to travel by air, attend a public event, or even to hold their job would amount to a new kind of “slavery.”
To highlight the underlying political hypocrisy surrounding the “vaccine passport” proposal North Dakota’s Republican Senator Kevin Cramer proposed legislation that would make states adopting the vaccine passport concept also require the presentation of a secure voter ID to cast a ballot on Election Day.
NEW CDC MASK MANDATE NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE SCIENCE
Perhaps the most emotional Covid measure now being re-introduced is the mask mandate the CDC has recommended for anyone in a school building, vaccinated or not. The CDC claimed that had valid scientific data justifying the mask mandate, and the assumption that requiring a child to wear a face mask could do no harm.
However, in an op-ed piece published this week by the Wall Street Journal, two infectious disease experts, Dr. Marty Makary a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Dr. H. Cody Meissner, who was a member of the FDA panel of experts which approved the Covid vaccines, said that there is no clear data supporting the effectiveness of a mask mandate exists, whereas there is extensive evidence that mask wearing can be a serious struggle for a significant segment of young school children.
According to Drs. Makary and Meissner, nearsighted children can have difficulty seeing because a mask can cause their glasses to fog up. Masks can cause severe cases of acne and other skin problems, and a mask’s pressure on the face can cause discomfort that can distract some children from learning. By increasing resistance during exhalation, masks can lead to elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, and a damp, dirty mask can also serve as a source of infection or a vector for pathogens. If a child already has breathing difficulties, wearing a mask could encourage them to compensate by breathing through their mouth, which causes other problems.
Then there are the psychological and socialization problems created for very young children forced to wear masks while they are still learning how to read facial signals for the non-verbal communication of emotions such as fear, confusion and happiness.
Makary and Meissner noted the surprising fact that out of the $42 billion spent on research by the National Institutes of Health in 2020, less than 2% went to fund any kind of Covid clinical research, and there was no money at all dedicated to study the effect of the use of masks by children.
In the absence of any direct scientific evidence, Makary and Meissner speculated that mask wearing is probably no better than fourth among the available mitigation strategies in schools, behind improved ventilation, social distancing, and segregating the children into set groups called pods throughout the school day.
Another limitation on their effectiveness is the fact that there is no standardization of the cloth masks recommended for use by members of the general public. Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who served on the Biden transition team’s Covid task force, told CNN last week, “Many of the face cloth coverings that people wear are not very effective in reducing any of the virus movement in or out.”
Makary and Meissner conclude that while “any child willing to wear a mask should be free to do so. . . for the sake of adults who refuse to get immunized is abusive. Before we order the masking of 56 million Americans who are too young to vote and don’t have a lobby, let’s see data showing the benefits and weigh them against the long-term harm.”
BIDEN IGNORING COVID-INFECTED MIGRANTS AT THE BORDER
Another glaring problem with the credibility of the Biden administration’s anti-Covid strategy is its decision to completely ignore the uncontrolled spread of the virus from the admission of more than one hundred thousand illegal immigrants from countries with high Covid infection rates being allowed to cross the southern border with Mexico each month, about 40% of whom are not tested for the virus, or who are being released without quarantine even though up to 20% of them are testing positive.
Legal foreign visitors to the US must show proof of a negative Covid test within the past 72 hours. Yet, illegal immigrants are being allowed to freely mingle with Americans living along the border and then disappear into Latino communities across the United States without being required to meet any Covid requirements.
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan asked facetiously whether migrants were included in President Biden’s plan to institute vaccine passports and would be required to show those passports before being allowed to cross the southern border.
CDC HAS FAILED TO MEET ITS OWN STANDARDS
Another part of problem is the clear failure of the CDC to fulfill its mandate during the pandemic to serve as the definitive source of reliable, up-to-date scientific information in which the American public can place its trust in times of health crisis. Instead of living up to that mission, as defined in a pamphlet the CDC published in 2018. Instead of striving to always, “Be first, be right, be credible,” throughout the pandemic, the CDC has continuously been sending mixed messages, too late to be effective, and condescending in tone, resulting in public confusion, fear, and ultimately distrust. Too often, CDC pronouncements and guidelines were overshadowed by rumors and myths about Covid promoted on social media, and by self-serving politicians in both parties.
That is why, after a year and a half of contradictory CDC Covid pronouncements and policies, the call by the CDC’s new Biden-appointed director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, re-instituting the indoor mask mandate was greeted with such widespread skepticism and distrust, especially among Republican governors and supporters of Donald Trump.
Furthermore, the CDC has utterly failed to perform its first duty as a public health organization, to lift the fog of the pandemic with solid, independent scientific research and analysis. Instead, it has been far too slow to collect the necessary data about the virus and the pandemic and has relied too heavily on questionable scientific data acquired from unreliable sources, especially China.
The CDC was far too eager, for example, to accept China’s unverified claim that the virus originated from a natural source. At the same time, it ignored strong indications that the Covid virus may have been the product of forbidden change of function viral experiments carried out at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with financial support from the federal government’s National Institutes of Health. When it became clear that the CDC had been hoodwinked about the origins of the virus by the Chinese and their American accomplices, the credibility of the agency fell even further.
CDC IS BIDEN’S PROBLEM NOW
The Biden administration has consistently blamed the CDC’s poor performance in response to the pandemic to political interference from the Trump administration. But that cannot explain why the Biden CDC was so slow in responding to the emergence of the Delta variant just a few months ago.
Data on the Delta variant from other countries made it clear by May of this year that it posed a serious threat even to those who have been vaccinated, the CDC failed to collect the kind of data needed to evaluate its threat by tracking breakthrough infections among vaccinated individuals, unless they were hospitalized.
Even after public health officials in England reported in June that the Delta variant was much more transmissible and probably more severe than the original virus, and data from Singapore showed that vaccinated people with breakthrough Delta variant infections were capable of infecting others, the CDC refused to change its policy of steadily relaxing its recommended Covid restrictions. Once again, it again struggled to play catch up as the Delta variant sharply reversed the course of the pandemic and sent the number of new cases and hospitalizations soaring, especially in countries with very low vaccination rates.
It was a replay of the first months of pandemic in early 2020, when the original Covid virus swept through Wuhan, China and Milan, Italy, while the CDC ignored the danger, relying upon false Chinese assurances, and failed to warn the American people and their elected leaders.
CDC WAS LATE AGAIN IN REACTING TO THE DELTA VARIANT
When the Delta variant arrived on these shores and began spreading rapidly, especially among the 30% of the American population not yet fully vaccinated, the CDC was again caught unprepared. It proved incapable of reacting swiftly enough to protect the tens of millions of vulnerable, unvaccinated Americans, predominantly made up of disadvantaged groups, including minorities and the working poor, as well as individuals who are immunocompromised, and school children under the age of 12 who cannot yet be vaccinated.
The spread of the Delta variant was accelerating. Hospitals were filling up again. More vaccinated people were getting infected. Americans turned to the CDC for answers. How dangerous was the new variant? How infectious? Was a booster shot necessary to fully protect the vaccinated? Once again, the CDC was unable to supply timely answers.
It was not until July 21, that Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Fauci, told CNBC that Delta was “clearly different” than previous virus variants, with a greater capacity for transmitting the virus and was dangerous enough for fully vaccinated people to consider wearing masks indoors again.
MORE MIXED MESSAGES
But just one day later, Biden’s CDC director, Dr. Walensky, muddled the message again by telling the public that the wearing of masks by the vaccinated was an “individual choice,” and emphasized that the vaccinated enjoyed “exceptional levels of protection.”
Then, just three days later, on July 25, Dr. Fauci confirmed that bringing back mask mandates was “under active consideration,” by the CDC.
On July 27, Dr. Walensky reversed herself and gave the American people an opposite message, that the Delta variant was behaving very differently, and the CDC was now recommending that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors wherever Covid transmission rates were “substantial” or higher.
But even then, the CDC’s message and recommendations were not yet completely clear or accurate.
Dr. Walensky claimed that the CDC had clear evidence that vaccinated people who became infected with the Delta variant had viral loads similar to those of unvaccinated people and could “forward transmit with the same capacity as an unvaccinated person.”
NEEDLESSLY ALARMING THE VACCINATED PUBLIC
Her statement alarmed tens of millions of vaccinated persons who had believed that they were safe, but when the CDC belatedly produced the evidence to back up the claim it proved to be less than scientifically convincing, and again relied heavily on foreign data rather than independent research conducted on Americans who had received the three FDA-approved vaccines.
Finally, the Washington Post reported that the CDC had decided to release its new mask wearing guidelines based upon a Delta variant outbreak involving 450 new cases contracted during the celebration of the July 4th weekend on Cape Cod, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. However, there were only seven hospitalizations and no deaths, and no reliable data on how much of the spread of the virus was due to people who had been vaccinated.
On closer examination, it was not clear that the data from the Provincetown outbreak fully justified the new, much stricter, CDC mask-wearing guidelines.
What the data from the Provincetown outbreak did prove was how well the existing vaccines work in preventing those who suffer breakthrough Delta variant infections from becoming severely ill.
While the Biden White House blamed the media coverage of the latest CDC guidelines for the growing public pushback against the indoor mask-wearing requirement, even for the vaccinated, but it was primarily the administration’s job to make sure that the message that was sent out by the CDC was clear, timely, and consistent. The fact that the agency has proven to be consistently incapable of meeting its own standards is clear evidence that the Biden administration first should clean its own house before blaming the media or Republicans for the growing public doubts about the CDC’s recommendations.
RAMPANT DEMOCRAT COVID HYPOCRISY
Top Democrats also have a credibility problem created by their own hypocrisy by blatantly violating the Covid restrictions that they have set for others.
For example, there was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s not so secret private styling appointment at San Francisco hair salon that was supposed to be closed due to the lockdown.
There was also California Governor Gavin Newsom’s scandalous attendance at a party at an exclusive French restaurant with his wealthy political supporters. The public uproar which resultant was the start of the movement which led to Newsom’s recall election scheduled for next month.
More recently, Muriel Bowser, the mayor of the Washington DC, went maskless, even as she ordered others to mask up, Similarly, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, allowed tens of thousands of people to gather at a potential Covid super-spreader rock concert, but there was not a word of criticism from Biden and her other fellow Democrats.
Most recently there was President Barack Obama’s exclusive 60th birthday party on Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend, at which Obama and his guests went maskless. Liberals were embarrassed when a New York Times social reporter told the world about it by noting that “Democrats supportive of the former president privately expressed surprise at the casual disregard for optics.” The unofficial Democrat excuse for this blatant example of elite superiority and hubris was that the guests attending Obama’s party were so sophisticated that they all must have been vaccinated and therefore exempt from the Covid rules they so much enjoy dictating to others.
WHY DEMOCRATS LOVE THE COVID CRISIS
The Democrats seem content to maintain the permanent sense of Covid crisis because it enables them to continue to do what they love to do, attack Trump and his MAGA supporters, and it doesn’t seem to bother them that their worthless Covid restrictions aren’t doing anything to actually bring the pandemic under control.
Biden and his administration are no doubt aware that his approach to handling Covid, which, before the November election, was one of his prime political assets, is no longer working for the nation as a whole. The polls now show that Biden’s once strong public approval ratings are now sliding, but Biden’s policies as president have been so muddled with mixed messages that another major change in direction will only add to his credibility problems.
What the people of this country are now looking for are real solutions to the serious problems facing the country, rather than more liberal rhetoric, deficit spending and Covid restrictions, which is all that Biden and the Democrats have to offer.