The C.D.C.’s New Leader Follows the Science. Is That Enough?

“I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she mentioned, her eyes glistening with tears. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now I’m scared.”

Her impassioned speech startled many individuals, maybe none greater than her husband. “She’s not a crier — if anything, I get choked up much more easily than she does,” he mentioned. Her openness signaled her “genuine anguish” about the state of the pandemic, he added. “She deeply felt the weight of a half a million dead.”

The day of her pressing plea, she appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the place she mentioned vaccinated folks “do not carry the virus” — a very optimistic assertion that the C.D.C. had to walk back. Later that week, new steering from the company mentioned that vaccinated folks might safely travel, however Dr. Walensky added that the company didn’t truly need them to journey in any respect, a stance that left some Americans perplexed.

The most up-to-date occasion, when Dr. Walensky introduced that vaccinated folks might go mask-free indoors, was supported by the newest analysis, scientists mentioned. But many felt the company had rushed the resolution to finish masks use with out contemplating components of the nation the place infections had been nonetheless excessive, and with out greedy the distrust and tradition clashes the new recommendation would engender.

“C.D.C. got the medical and epidemiological science right, but what they did not get right was the behavioral science, the communications and working collaboratively with other stakeholders,” Dr. Gounder mentioned. “That was a big oversight.”

Data since the announcement appear to have proved Dr. Walensky right: Infections are nonetheless declining, whilst a lot of the nation reopens at a vigorous tempo. And as promised, the company has set about issuing extra sensible masking steering concerning settings like summer season camps (largely no) and public transportation (sure).

Dr. Walensky and the C.D.C. declined to touch upon how the masks suggestions had been dealt with. But Dr. Fauci mentioned that he believed some small missteps had been inevitable, and that Dr. Walensky was a fast examine.

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