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Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Thoughts on CDC's new low for community spread

 The CDC revised its covid guidelines.  

The new low would have been "substantial spread "according to the old definition new low is 20 times the old low. 

Remember the pro masker's rallying cry "my mask protects you, your mask protects me" and contrast that with the CDC latest package of guidelines that say in part  that mask wearing  is "a personal preference informed by personal level of risk". "Personal preference" and "personal level of risk" sounds more like libertarian or perhaps more accurately faux libertarian thinking than  standard public health which tends to trump personal choice with measurable or at least purported collective good.

I never thought that CDC would make a recommendation so out of resonance with basic health dogma as mask wearing is a " personal preference informed by personal level of risk". This seem little different from the medically ignorance claim that "I harm no one by not wearing a mask" because if covid is spread by aerosol and if there is asymptomatic spread then by not wearing a mask you may well harm others.

 Libertarian thought and fundamental public health recommendations are strange bed fellows. The vulnerable might now well think  that  I need a mask to protect me because not even the CDC is telling people to wear mask to protect me  and the other vulnerables nor to protect the healthy and not so healthy  folks whose jobs put them at high exposures levels by their daily person to person contact.

Beside the elderly who have varying degree of age related diminution in immune responsiveness there are 7 million immunocompromised individuals in the US  and 19 million kids less than five year of age for whom as of March 2022 there is  no available vaccine.

Katherin J. Wu Ph.D. writing in the March 3 2022 on line issue of The Atlantic notes that last week Cook County Illinois was at a high level of transmission  but now according to CDC's redefining of risk levels is at a comfortable low level and masks may be removed. She continued saying that  country wide with the old criteria nearly everyone needed to mask now only 37 % need to.

The new CDC guidelines focus now  more on hospital burden rather than local disease transmission  level to determine what levels of mitigation measures need be implemented even though hospital rates are a lagging indication suggesting that by the time hospitals and filling up the horse is well gone from the barn. 

Somehow by pretending that disease levels are less dangerous by re-defining risk categories we will "control covid rather than covid controlling us" It seems that much of the heavy lifting in that control seems to fall on the elderly and the immunocompromised as others will be wearing masks much less often .

Quoting Dr. Eric Topol " When states and counties proclaim we just need to live with the virus and end all restrictions many people interpret that message [to mean] that the pandemic is over"

My retired epidemiologist friend believes the CDC basically declared the US is now in an endemic phase of covid 19 and by proclamation covid will be considered like the flu and as long as hospitals do not reach some stipulated level of threat of being overwhelmed we will "just live with it". 

It has not gone unnoticed by some pundits that the new covid status is in place  well before the upcoming mid term elections and that the doing away with masks and vaccine mandates might be thought to  deprive reublicans from a major talking point. 

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