The Biden administration has been on the receiving end of bipartisan wrath over its apparent mishandling of COVID-19 testing, as both tests and the patience of Americans have been in short supply nationwide.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made a habit of amending its COVID-19 guidelines, most recently cutting the length of its recommended quarantine time for infected patients from 10 days to five. Those who are infected are now instructed to isolate for just five days, followed by five days of wearing a mask around other people.
The CDC also admitted its initial estimates about the prevalence of the omicron variant were way off, and seemed to release some misleading guidance on the efficacy of rapid antigen tests. Before that, the agency issued a series of confusing guidance on the wearing of masks.
A CNN panelist on Sunday commented on the Biden administration’s mixed messaging.
“It’s the worst kind of problem,” Washington Post columnist Paul Kane said on “Inside Politics.” “They have a policy problem and a messaging problem.”
Kane hit the White House for first focusing on a vaccine-only approach instead of focusing on boosting testing, saying, “They thought they could vaccinate their way out of this problem.”
“This administration, with all the money in the world, from the bipartisan deals of 2020 and the unilateral Democratic $1.9 trillion bill in March, they had all the money in the world on testing, and they just didn’t focus on it. And that was a huge mistake,” he added.
And now the messaging in terms of what comes out of the CDC is “just as confusing as it ever was,” he said.
Even former Biden advisers have urged the White House to chart a different course for the sake of the country’s health.
The “new normal,” they explained, should be “recognizing that SARS-CoV-2 is but one of several circulating respiratory viruses that include influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and more.” the advisers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
One of the authors of the articles, NYU Grossman School of Medicine professor Dr. Celine Gounder, expanded on her criticisms on “Meet the Press,” saying the White House could have established a better working relationship with the private sector to manufacture more rapid tests.
“The White House and the administration certainly could have done more, earlier, to work with the private sector to create a more stable demand by putting in large volume orders,” she suggested.
Asked by NBC’s Peter Alexander last week why Americans should “trust” the CDC, Director Rochelle Walensky defended the agency’s fluctuating guidance, saying they were simply following the science.
“My job right now is to take all the science and the information that we have and to deliver guidance and recommendations to the American people that is adapted to the science at hand,” she said. “This pandemic has given us a lot of new and updated science over the last two years, and it is my job to convey that science through those recommendations and that is exactly what we’re doing.”
Meanwhile, some social media users have found an entertaining side of the CDC’s confusing guidance, coming up with some creative “recommendations” the agency is likely to suggest next.
“The CDC recommends you put pineapple on your pizza,” “The CDC now recommends liquor before beer, you’re in the clear,” and, “The CDC recommends simply walking into Mordor” were just a few of the more popular examples.