Masks Determined by SOTU, er, Science


White House officials have reportedly pressured the CDC to change its guidance before Biden’s March 1 speech.

It’s amazing how quickly The Science™ can change when the polling does.

When Mark Alexander predicted Joe Biden’s big COVID pivot, the only thing he slightly underestimated was just how quickly that would happen. The bet was that Democrats would pivot in plenty of time to help stave off defeat in the midterm elections, but the latest DC scuttlebutt is that Biden is trying to pivot in time for his March 1 State of the Union Address.

Specifically, White House officials are reportedly pressuring the CDC to ease up on its masking guidelines as early as next week, which of course would give Biden’s speechwriters plenty of time to work that “sign of victory” and “proof of Biden’s leadership” into the president’s address.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky insisted this week that masking guidelines would change only “based on the data and the science.” Sure thing. What that really means is that political science is driving decisions, but that the CDC will need to find some data-based justification for the change. Hospitalization rates? Vaccination rates? Something to deflect from the idea that mask mandates never made much sense.

Multiple Democrats softened the beaches for this pivot by lifting their own mandates in recent days. Leftmedia scribes have likewise written think pieces arguing that after two weeks years to flatten the curve, it probably is time to start opening back up.

But most importantly, polls are consistently and increasingly showing that Americans are tired of all the mandates and lockdowns and are ready to get back to normal life.

So, back to the CDC. We’ll know that actual science might possibly be playing a small role in the decision if the CDC removes its recommendation for masking kids in school. If it doesn’t, we’ll know the teachers unions are still running things at the CDC.

Unfortunately, that no change is coming for schools is exactly what Walensky insinuated.

When challenged that the U.S. is an outlier in requiring schoolchildren to wear masks, Walensky simply repeated the status quo. “Our guidance currently is that masking should happen in all schools right now,” all while she claimed the CDC is, of course, only issuing “guidance” and “we have deferred our guidance to the local jurisdictions.”

How many school districts out there defer to the CDC, not the other way around?

As for the rest of us, what happens with the next variant and inevitable surge in cases?

Mask up again? Most likely, that’s exactly where the CDC will go. “We want to give people a break from things like mask wearing when these metrics are better,” Walensky said, “and have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen.”

That ambiguity is partly because the CDC currently uses metrics from early 2020 to determine its mask guidance. People should mask up, it says, if cases exceed 50 cases per 100,000. The nation as a whole is still at roughly 310 cases per 100,000. Until the CDC bases its recommendations on the science behind the efficacy (or lack thereof) of masking, it’s just a numbers game.


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