CDC criticized by health experts over its COVID messaging and policies

January 13, 2022
United States is now averaging more than 700K new COVID cases per day
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Americans navigating the COVID-19 pandemic during the latest virus surge say frequent changes in federal guidelines don’t make their lives any easier. And they aren’t alone in their frustration.

Prominent health experts who have stood by the CDC and its science-based decisions since the beginning of the pandemic are now criticizing the agency for poor communication.

The agency’s “messaging problem” can be divided into three main issues, health experts said, the biggest of which is inconsistent transparency.

On every policy update, the CDC must back up its decision with clear data and translate the science so the general public can understand it, said Thomas Hipper, associate director of the Center for Public Health Readiness and Communication at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health.

When announcing the new isolation guidelines on Dec. 27, CDC officials failed to specifically cite the science, Hipper said.

“Simply announcing the change and trying to explain it without the clear rationale leaves you exposed to questioning,” he said. “Letting the public see those imperfect choices helps justify why the decision was made.”

Health experts said the second issue contributing to the CDC’s messaging problem is that local health departments and national organizations feel left out of the agency’s decision-making. 

Finally, experts said, the CDC has left itself open to charges that it lacks accountability. The agency has reiterated the science of the pandemic is evolving, and although that is true, health experts say the CDC still needs to acknowledge its errors in that space of inherent uncertainty.

“It humanizes this effort, and it would go a long way in building back trust,” Hipper said. “There’s nothing wrong in acknowledging that, ‘Hey, we didn’t get everything right, but we’re committed to getting it as right as we can.’”

Also in the news:

►New Jersey COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 28% since Jan. 2. And the number of people needing a ventilator rose to 500 Monday — a 71% jump in that period.

►Novak Djokovic acknowledged Wednesday that his Australian travel declaration form contained incorrect information, and he also confessed to an “error of judgment” in taking part in an interview and photoshoot in Serbia last month after testing positive for COVID-19.

►The U.S. Army, for the first time, is offering a maximum enlistment bonus of $50,000 to recruits who join for six years as the service struggles to lure soldiers into critical jobs amid the pandemic, according to The Associated Press.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 62.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 843,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 315 million cases and nearly 5.5 million deaths. More than 208 million Americans – 62.7% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘What we’re reading: Should you swab your throat with an at-home COVID test amid omicron? This is why experts say no.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s free Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox and join our Facebook group.

Biden sending medical teams to states to overwhelmed by COVID surge

The federal government is sending medical teams to six states — New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico — to help hospitals overburdened by COVID-19, USA TODAY has learned.

President Joe Biden is expected to announce the deployments Thursday when discussing steps the administration is taking to address a surge in infections driven by the omicron variant, according to a White House official.

His remarks come as hospitalizations for COVID-19 are setting records. Some hospitals are delaying elective surgeries as states are deploying National Guard members to health care facilities.

Facing pressure from even members of his own party to do more to get the pandemic under control, Biden’s new actions are expected to center on additional manpower. 

— Maureen Groppe and Donovan Slack, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

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Life is like a running cycle right! I am a news editor at TIMES. Collecting News is my passion. Because my visitors have the right to know the truth and perfectly.

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