Doctors and politicians are slamming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over its new mask guidance, saying officials are simply panicking and causing Americans to question the effectiveness of vaccines.
On Tuesday, the federal health agency said it was recommending people who live in COVID-19 hot spots to wear masks in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status – and that all students and staff in K-12 schools do the same, which is a massive U-turn from its previous guidance issued two months ago.
While some physicians agree with the CDC’s measure, other public health experts and U.S. lawmakers said the new recommendations are premature, with one doctor saying vaccinated Americans will now have ’emotional whiplash’ because they got their shots as recommended, yet are now being told they still have to wear masks.
Republican leaders also blasted the CDC and the Biden administration, suggesting that the updated guidance is purely political and not based on science.
It comes as the UK – which has seen cases rise and decline four to six weeks ahead of the U.S. throughout the course of the pandemic – reports that a recent Covid surge caused by the Indian ‘Delta’ variant is waning.
Despite dropping most pandemic restrictions last week and predictions that the UK would see 100,000 cases a day, COVID-19 infections have falling for at least a week among every age group – which could mean that America’s own surge may soon be over too.
Doctors have slammed the new CDC recommendations, released on Tuesday, suggesting that people wear masks in indoor public places if they live in COVID-19 hotspots, regardless of vaccination status. Pictured: People in masks walk through 14 Street Union Square subway station in New York City, Wednesday
Dr Lucy McBridde (left) said the U-turn in is causing ’emotional whiplash’ and is not needed because vaccines are effective while former FDA commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb (right) suggested masks only be worn by fully vaccinated people if they develop Covid symptoms
The CDC claimed the new guidance is due to rising U.S. cases, which have spiked by 348 percent from an average of 13,689 per day to 61,451 over the last three weeks, and new evidence that vaccinated people who contract Delta may be contagious
Despite rising cases, deaths have remained low, and have stayed below an average of 300 per day since June 25
“If you are vaccinated in a high prevalence area, in contact with virus, you think you might have the virus because you have mild symptoms–be prudent, get tested, maybe wear a mask especially if you are around a vulnerable person,” says @ScottGottliebMD. pic.twitter.com/LFlMffkfe9
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) July 28, 2021
‘In general, I don’t think we should mandate masking when the vaccines are effective as they are,’ Dr Lucy McBride, a practicing internal-medicine physician in Washington, DC, told WJLA on Tuesday.
She said the new guidance is going to frustrate a lot of vaccinated Americans and cause ’emotional whiplash’ for people who feel they followed the recommendations to get vaccinated, but may now believe the vaccines don’t work as well as health experts said they did.
‘[They] took the time and effort to get vaccinated and appropriately have been told the truth which that, once you have been vaccinated, your risk for getting COVID-19 is dramatically reduced,’ she said.
‘We are seeing breakthrough cases…but if they do get sick are getting milder infections. The risk for a severe infection, where you are hospitalized or worse – die – is less than 0.003 percent.’
McBride told WJLA she would only recommend masks for her high risk patients who ‘don’t want to take the tiny risk of getting sick from COVID-19.’
Former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb agreed, telling CNBC’s Squawk Box on Wednesday that the CDC’s ever-changing guidance and vague language has become too ‘confusing’ for Americans to understand.
He elaborated that vaccinated people should only be wearing masks if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 such as a cough or fever.
‘If you are vaccinated in a high prevalence area, in contact with virus, you think you might have the virus because you have mild symptoms of it – be prudent, get tested, maybe wear a mask especially if you are around a vulnerable person,’ Gottlieb said.
Republican governors, House members and Senators echoed the doctors’ comments and said that the new guidance will lead to skepticism about whether or not vaccines work, and maybe even deter unvaccinated people from getting the shots.
Former President Donald Trump sent an angry statement Tuesday demanding Americans ‘don’t go back’ to wearing masks.
‘We won’t go back, We won’t mask our children. Why do Democrats distrust the science? Don’t let this happen to our children or our Country,’ the statement read.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Tuesday ‘Vaccines work and vaccinated Americans should not have to wear masks,’ House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Tuesday.
‘By forcing vaccinated Americans to return to masks, the Biden administration is not only casting doubt on a safe and effective vaccine but contradicting why vaccines exist.’
Others said the recommendations were made for political purposes and not based off of any science or peer-reviewed studies.
‘Don’t surrender to COVID. Don’t go back!’ Trump released in a Tuesday statement. ‘Don’t let this happen to our children or our Country’
Republican governors, House members and Senators criticized the CDC and Biden administration, claiming that the new guidance casts doubt on the effectiveness of vaccines and is a political move, not one based on science
‘The science hasn’t changed. Only the politics has. #NoCovidMandates,’ tweeted Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
‘The time for government mask mandates is over- now is the time for personal responsibility…Every Texan has the right to choose whether they will wear a mask or have their children wear masks,’ wrote Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) retweeted Abbott’s comments and added: ‘This is 100 percent correct. No mandatory masks. No mandatory vaccines. #Freedom.’
In his interview on CNBC, Gottlieb acknowledged to host Andrew Ross Sorkin that some fully vaccinated people do develop asymptomatic or mild infections and can transmit he virus if their viral loads – the amount of virus in their body – is incredibly high, but that this is very rare.
‘Whether or not that then translates into general guidance for the entire population you should wear masks, I don’t think that that’s the case,’ he told CNBC.
‘I don’t think that we’re gonna get enough bang for our buck by telling vaccinated people that they have to wear a mask at all times.’
Gottlieb also predicted that the U.S. is further ahead in its Delta-wave then health officials realize and that cases will fall in the next two or three weeks as they have in the UK.
It comes as the Indian ‘Delta’ surge in the UK continues to recede, with cases falling in every age group
The UK has a far higher case rate than the U.S. currently – but Gottlieb said that the U.S. is following the same trajectory as the UK and should also see COVID-19 infections decline in either the next two or three weeks
COVID-19 cases are falling in every age group in England (above) and most quickly among adults in their 20s, falling by about 15% per day
On Wednesday, the UK recorded 27,734 positive tests today, down 37 percent from last week’s figure of 44,104 and 49 percent from the 54,674 cases recorded 11 days ago, according to government data, amid the spread of the Delta variant.
The drop comes after several public health experts, including UK Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid, predicting that cases in Britain would reach as high as 100,000 per day before declining.
Data from the Department of Health show COVID-19 cases are falling in every age group in England and most quickly among adults in their 20s, falling by about 15 percent per day
Experts said the downturn in cases was a ‘very good’ sign because it adds to mounting evidence that the third wave is in retreat. But they cautioned more data was needed before they could be certain the drop is permanent, and cases won’t tick up again following July 19 ‘Freedom Day.’
Scientists and researchers have said the fall in cases in the UK is due to several factors including increased uptake in vaccinations, warmer weather and fewer people gathering indoors, which could mean good news for America.
In the U.S. cases rising by 348 percent from 13,689 per day to 61,451 over the last three weeks, average deaths have continued to remain low at below 300 per day since June 25.
On CNBC’s The Street Live on Wednesday morning, reported via Mediaite, financial pundit Jim Cramer warned the U.S. could see 100 million people infected with COVID-19 in nine weeks.
These comments reflect the same dire predictions that were made in the UK, only for infections to decline
There is currently no evidence that suggests 100 million people could contract the disease in two months.
THE CDC’S EVOLVING GUIDANCE ON MASKS FOR AMERICANS (AND THEIR U-TURNS)
- March 2020: The CDC recommends that Americans do not wear masks – the agency feared civilians would horde existing supply of masks, exacerbating a PPE shortage
- March 8, 2020: Dr Anthony Fauci says during an appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes: ‘There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.’
- April 3, 2020: CDC reverses decision, recommending Americans wear masks in public areas
- July 14, 2020: CDC reaffirms support for masks, publishes data showing masks prevent the spread of COVID
- December 11, 2020: Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine becomes first for COVID to receive FDA emergency use authorization
- April 27, 2021: CDC says fully vaccinated Americans do not have to wear masks outdoors
- May 13, 2021: CDC says those who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear masks indoors in most situations
- July 27, 2021: Agency reverses previous mask decision, recommending vaccinated people put masks back in hot spots amid surge of Delta variant