In 2 decisions, CDC signals the pandemic still has months to go
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We are in a weird spot in this pandemic right now. It feels like things are getting better, more and more people getting vaccinated, more businesses opening, but we’re not entirely out of the woods.
People are still getting sick and dying of COVID-19. That puts health officials and policymakers in a tough spot.
To illustrate: two recent pieces of news from the Centers for Disease Control.
Item 1: The CDC is extending its tenant eviction moratorium to June 30.
Item 2: The cruise industry didn’t get what it wanted — restrictions on sailing from U.S. ports will stay in place until November.
Very different issues with different stakes, but both point to the fact that the CDC thinks we still have a ways to go before the pandemic is over, according to Dr. Philip Landrigan, who used to work at the CDC and now teaches at Boston College.
“They have to decide which sectors of the economy absolutely have to be controlled in, which can be let go, and they have to balance economics and humanitarian considerations,” he said.
And that is an exercise in risk management, said Dr. Bill Lang of WorldClinic, who specializes in analyzing health risks. He said if COVID-19 were a disease that killed almost everyone who got it, very few people would question continued restrictions. “But if it is a disease where the risk is now increasingly managed by vaccine and also by the better treatment methods, then you’re allowed to take more risks.”
But that desire to take more risks had CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky saying this at a press conference Monday: “Right now, I’m scared.”
She said there is reason for hope and optimism, but there are also new variants of the virus to deal with. “Just please hold on a little while longer. I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done.”
We’re almost there, she said — but not quite yet.
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