CDC: From Bad to Worse
Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
Admittedly, the CDC's announcement that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks except under certain circumstances was met with great jubilation by many. However, in reality, the decree is not only nonsensical, but it may have opened the door to the widespread use of vaccine passports.
In the latest incarnation of its continuously evolving recommendations, the CDC is now saying that fully vaccinated individuals are "free" to engage in practically any indoor activity without a mask. Notable exceptions include traveling in public transport and commercial airplanes, visiting one's doctor, and entering hospitals and nursing homes, where masks are still "required" according to the CDC.
Leaving the issue of commercial airlines and healthcare facilities aside where its universal masking recommendations still apply, the CDC has now placed every business in America in a precarious situation. What is the movie theater owner supposed to do with these two new classes of individuals? Will he allow all to enter without masks, instilling fear amongst many (rational or not)? Will he continue to require full mask compliance, in which case its attendance will continue to remain low? Or will he reach for the proverbial "vaccine passport," which will offend many?
The differing opinions on how to handle such inconsistent recommendations have already caused confusion and controversy. Since the CDC's update on Friday, I have yet to visit a single restaurant where mask use is required. (Remember, I live in Southwest Florida). Additionally, my trip this weekend to a medical conference in Tampa was quite revealing. The hotel (a large one) still had its signs up indicating that masks were required in all public areas, yet I observed only about 20% of people wearing masks. In the second floor conference area where the doctors' conference was being held, I saw two people wearing masks out of a few hundred people in attendance. Interestingly, they were both young physicians.
In the corporate arena, Walmart, Trader Joe's, and Costco have announced they are dropping their mask mandates, while Target, Macy's, and Starbucks will continue to observe theirs. Meanwhile, I still have not seen or heard of a business establishment allowing only proven vaccinated individuals to access its facilities without a mask. Additionally, Bishop Frank Dewane has rescinded all masks mandates in all churches within his Venice diocese while continuing them in its catholic schools
The path moving forward seems unavoidable. First, most Americans are all-too-happy to get rid of their masks. Vaccinated or not, the overwhelming majority will ditch their masks in practically all public settings. Returning to mask mandates will be a very difficult task indeed as Americans look back at the futility of their masking efforts, particularly in light of a healthcare system that does not appear to be particularly overwhelmed. Second, businesses will find themselves in the awkward situation of not knowing what to do about the barrage of unmasked individuals visiting their establishments. Those holding on to the mask mandates will eventually capitulate, as customers either fuss or move to their competitors. Increasingly, the mask mandates will become a thing of the past with only healthcare facilities and airlines holding out.
The overall effect of the public's reaction to this confusing and unverifiable mask "mandate" is to obfuscate the CDC's decision. The beleaguered organization, already riddled with inaccurate information, questionable opinions, and obvious conflicts of interest will largely be ignored, and America will head into the inevitable "next pandemic" less sure of its public health leadership than it was before. Overall, this has been a poor showing by the CDC. A poor showing indeed.
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Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons. He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.