By Joshua Arnold
You may have forgotten the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even had COVID guidelines. Already whittled down from severely draconian origins to something that more reflected Florida’s early policies, the CDC’s official guidelines have finally been updated to better reflect public opinion. That’s not quite how they put it, of course. “CDC is streamlining its COVID-19 guidance to help people better understand their risk, how to protect themselves and others,” began their Thursday press release. Isn’t “streamlining” a nice-sounding word?
Of course, people have already figured out “their risk,” and “how to protect themselves and others” — no thanks to The Science personified. We were forced through a crash course in the unhealthy effects of constant paranoia and fear, and sooner or later concluded that “zero risk” is not a practical objective. Even The New York Times, often sequestered in their metropolitan bubble, could narrate, “many Americans dispensed with practices such as social distancing, quarantine, and mask-wearing long ago.”
One infectious disease expert, Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota, believed the CDC was “attempting to meet up with the reality that everyone in the public is pretty much done with this pandemic.” Living as he does in daily proximity to the bluest part of a blue city in a blue state (the University of Minnesota lies in the congressional district represented by Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar), Osterholm is uniquely qualified to comment both on scientific and popular merits of the CDC’s decision. Even from his vantage point, “Everyone in the public is pretty much done with this pandemic.”
In the CDC’s latest update, they no longer recommend six feet of social distancing. They no longer recommend quarantining if you’ve been exposed (only if you contract COVID). They no longer recommend wearing a mask unless you’ve been exposed. And they updated guidance for people who aren’t up-to-date on their vaccinations to be “consistent” with people who are. In other words, barring exceptions that can elevate a person’s risk, you don’t have to get vaccinated (although they still recommend you stay up-to-date with your shots), wear a mask, socially distance, or even quarantine (unless you’re actually sick). But folks in most places had all that figured out by last summer, if not sooner.