“With the virus throwing one curveball after another, changing advice from the CDC is a given,” the Times reported Wednesday. “But Dr. Walensky’s critics say the CDC’s recommendations are sometimes so confusing or abruptly modified that they seem more like drafts than fully vetted proclamations.”
The Times went on to point out Walensky’s various contradictions, including the latest amid the omicron variant spike which recommended that COVID-positive people are only required to isolate for five days instead of 10. Even though Walensky reportedly briefed White House officials on the new recommendation, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy took public issue with it.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky gives her opening statement on Capitol Hill, November 4, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
“Nine days after the guidance was issued and a day after it was slightly modified to include some advice on testing, the C.D.C. was still having a hard time explaining itself,” the Times wrote.
The article pointed out how President Biden vowed to restore trust in the CDC after the Trump administration had “tied the agency’s hands and manipulated its scientific judgments on the pandemic for political ends.” But Biden and Walensky alike, they explained, have since been caught mishandling communication to the public.
“Mr. Biden has presided over a series of messaging failures that have followed a familiar pattern, with Dr. Walensky and her team making what experts say are largely sound decisions, but fumbling in communicating them to America,” the Times stated.
U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden walk on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Photographer: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The publication listed other fumbles made by Walensky – tagging her as a “highly-regarded” infectious disease expert with no background in government. This includes guidance to separate students in schools by six feet, then shortened to three feet one month later; not recommending teachers be vaccinated to reopen schools followed by the White House reacting that Walensky was speaking “in her personal capacity” next day; and her suggestion that vaccinated people do not have to wear masks in public only to revoke it two months later.
According to the Times and several administration officials, the issue lies between the CDC and the Biden administration’s failure to work together. But who to blame is allegedly a “matter of debate” as Walensky has been criticized for her lack of collaboration and the White House has been arguably too loose on the reins of “follow the science,” going “too far in its hands-off, let-the-scientists-rule approach.”
The Times did not hesitate to pull Fauci into the mix, criticizing the nation’s top infectious disease expert for publicly contradicting the CDC and further “muddying the waters.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci participates in the White House COVID-19 Response Team’s regular call at the White House, Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
“The handling of the isolation guidance was a case study in how to confuse the public,” they wrote. “And the controversy is not over.”