The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, took to Capitol Hill this week to justify the CDC’s decision to release new guidelines that allow vaccinated individuals to go without a mask in most outdoor and indoor settings.
Initially, Walensky was just going to discuss the CDC’s proposed budget with the press, however, she quickly began being confronted with questions about the guidelines and the controversy surrounding it; many people think the CDC was premature in their announcement, and are giving non-vaccinated individuals a free pass to go without a mask in public.
“The country is not uniform, you really need to interpret our guidence in the context of what is happening in your community.”
The major issue with this statement from Walensky is that America is so large, and so many individuals feel differently about being vaccinated. She continued to discuss how the “United States is not a homogenous country, so the CDC is letting states and localities decide how to implement the new guidance.”
Although the CDC released these new guidelines, they did not tell any governors or local leaders how to implement the guidance based on their specific infection and vaccination rates. This has left political leaders completely blind, and confused, as to when it’s safe enough to lift their mask mandates.
Wednesday’s press conference proved that America’s lawmakers are just as confused as average Americans, which is a major problem considering our political leaders have been the main authority figures throughout this pandemic. Now that the CDC has more of an authority in the White House, it’s confusing that they’re not helping specific state leaders determine when to lift their mandates.
Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin spoke out against the confusion: “What should workplaces be doing right now? I’m especially concerned with food-processing plants, of which Wisconsin has a high number. Many such plants are crowded facilities where there’s going to be a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers. My state also experienced multiple coronavirus outbreaks in a number of meat-processing plants last spring.”
United Food and Commercial Workers International is a union that represents people in the food service industry in America. They also spoke out against the CDC’s general guidelines, claiming that the guidance “fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks. We worry that these workers could be forced to become the vaccination police, asking people about their status, and potentially asking them to mask up.”
As most of us have seen, many businesses have had to fight customers tirelessly who refused to wear a mask for whatever reason. The CDC claimed that they will be giving update guidance for workplaces and other settings, but it’s unclear as to when that will be; the White House was apparently completely surprised by the CDC’s initial announcement that vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks.
Although there’s an obscene level of confusion among the individuals who are supposed to be keeping us safe and guiding us in the right direction toward the end of this pandemic, the rate in which Americans are being vaccinated is a major turning point for the past year. Hopefully more Americans will continue to get their vaccines, and life can really begin to feel normal again.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.