Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is introducing a new measure that would focus on reviewing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) decision making following a recent history of extremely questionable decisions.
The bill, known as the Restore Public Health Institution Trust Act, would direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the decision-making process for the CDC.
The bill would also have the GAO review the impact of “inconsistent messaging” on Americans’ trust in the institution and their “willingness” to follow guidance.
The bill would also have the GAO review “the degree to which outside entities” impacted those recommendations. Rubio’s legislation specifically questions whether teachers unions were involved in the decision-making process.
“In a dramatic reversal of their previous guidance, President Biden’s CDC has seemingly decided that our businesses, churches, and schools should remain masked up and potentially locked down forever,” Rubio said. “This new guidance is confusing and Americans are frustrated.”
“Telling vaccinated individuals to wear masks without providing data undercuts the message that vaccines are highly effective against the virus,” Rubio continued, adding that his bill “would bring more transparency to the Administration’s decisions and reveal whether or not there is data to back up this nonsensical new masking guidance.”
“For public health mitigation measures to be effective, Americans need to be able to trust that all recommendations are science-based and justifiable—in that respect, and many others, the CDC has failed,” he added.
The CDC this week reversed its earlier guidance that only unvaccinated individuals should wear face coverings, saying that vaccinated individuals should resume wearing masks in certain situations to protect against COVID-19.
In May, the CDC announced that vaccinated individuals were not required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, or physically distance, while maintaining that unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks and socially distance.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explained this week that the reason for the CDC’s reversal on indoor masking for vaccinated people is because “in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and pass the virus to others.”
They “may be contagious,” Walensky said, because “the amount of virus” in vaccinated people infected by the delta variant “is pretty similar to the amount of virus in unvaccinated people.”
The CDC is also being pressed to release the “new data” cited in their announcement revising mask mandates for areas at high risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Republican legislators and some commentators noted that the CDC did not provide an explicit scientific rationale for returning to indoor masking, only Walensky’s vague explanation.
“Outside scientists” are reportedly curious about the CDC’s data set used to make the decision as well according to the Washington Post.
“They’re making a claim that people with delta who are vaccinated and unvaccinated have similar levels of viral load, but nobody knows what that means,” Gregg Gonsalves, an associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health, told the outlet. “It’s meaningless unless we see the data.”
“When CDC Director Rochelle Walensky spoke to reporters Tuesday, she cited the ‘new scientific data’ but provided limited details about how the research was done,” the Post added. “She said the data comes from outbreak investigations in which researchers compared delta infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated people.”
It is not clear whether the CDC is relying on peer-reviewed studies or its own collected data, either, leaving experts concerned.
The CDC cannot itself mandate mask-wearing — state and local governments do. But many state and local governments closely follow the CDC’s guidance on the coronavirus, and some immediately adopted mask mandates after the CDC announcement Tuesday, including Nevada and Kansas City, Mo.
Author: Erik Warren