By Matt Welch, Reason
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was asked Wednesday morning at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing to explain what impact expanding vaccination to 5- to 11-year-olds would have on masking in schools. “You can speak to sort of the benefits along those lines,” Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller prompted her.
Here’s how Walensky responded:
After we have authorization from [the Food and Drug Administration] and recommendations from CDC we will be working to scale up pediatric vaccination. That said, it will take some time, and as I just noted, as we head into these winter months, we know we cannot be complacent. We also know that from previous data that schools that have had masks in place were three-and-a-half times less likely to have school outbreaks requiring school closure. So, right now we are going to continue to recommend masks in all schools for all people in those schools and we will look forward to scaling out pediatric vaccination during this period of time.
So the “benefits” of vaccinating kids is that kids will be vaccinated; otherwise nothing changes.
Walensky and the CDC have serially misrepresented the data on which they base their global outlier of a recommendation that kids aged 2 and older wear masks in indoor group settings. But what makes the director’s comments last week particularly distressing for some parents is that it offers zero off ramp; no numerical set of targets to hit; not even a distant glimmer of light when it comes to the increasingly grim and questionably scientific practice of concealing children’s faces at a developmentally critical age.
“Please find a parameter to unmask children,” responded infectious disease specialist Monica Gandhi of UC San Francisco. Or as Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo wrote, “Masks in schools were meant to be a temporary measure. It is good policy and practice to establish off-ramps for interventions that aren’t meant to be permanent….We should be able to answer what conditions would enable an end.”
My 6-year-old, who has spent nearly one-quarter of her life wearing masks in group indoor settings, attends a school where all the adults are vaccinated, kids and adults alike get tested once a week, and (per state requirement, as directly influenced by the CDC) everyone over age 2 wears masks, even outdoors. We live in a moderately high vaccination zip code (68 percent of all residents with at least one shot, 64 percent fully vaxxed), in a city with a lower case rate than all but six states, whose positive rate among regularly tested, unvaccinated public school students since mid-September is a minuscule 0.23 percent. I would like to know what any of those numbers need to look like in order for my daughter to see her teachers’ mouths again.
Instead, as Harvard associate public health professor Joseph G. Allen wrote in Tuesday’s Washington Post, “it’s easy to see how schools could sleepwalk into indefinite masking for kids for at least this entire school year.”
Read more at Reason.