The cat is out of the bag. If you wondered if the CDC was getting its Covid -19 guidelines from anywhere other than science, the answer has just been revealed.
Jon Levine, writing in The New York Post, says, “The American Federation of Teachers lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on, and even suggested language for, the federal agency’s school re-opening guidance released in February.” The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust and provided to The Post.
To refresh your memory, in February, new CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced CDC study results confirmed it was safe for schools to reopen even before teachers were vaccinated.
In an article published January 26th in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), three researchers from the CDC found “little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission” of the coronavirus. The CDC researchers looked at more than 90,000 students in 11 North Carolina districts and found that only 32 students and staff members were infected in school, while 773 got infected during the same period out of school. The science was clear; reopening schools was safe for children and teachers.
Dr. Walensky announced these findings to the press and recommended reopening of the schools. She said, “Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” But when the press asked questions about her statement with White House press secretary Jen Psaki, she replied Dr. Walensky was speaking “in her personal capacity” and not as the Director of the CDC.
This made little sense at the time. As the Director of the CDC, Dr. Walensky always speaks in an official capacity. But her conclusions about the study and her recommendations would not become official CDC guidelines. Now we know why.
The teachers unions would not tolerate the reopening of the schools without more money and more time for teachers to be vaccinated. Never mind that the science did not support the need for these things. The New York Post article explains what happened next.
Levine says, “The documents show a flurry of activity between CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, her top advisors and union officials – with Biden brass being looped in at the White House – in the days before the highly anticipated February 12 announcement on school re-opening guidelines.”
An email from AFT senior director for health issues, Kelly Trautner, reads, “We were able to review a copy of the draft guidance document over the weekend and were able to provide some initial feedback to several staff this morning about possible ways to strengthen the document. We believe our experiences on the ground can inform and enrich thinking around what is practicable and prudent in future guidance documents.” She described the AFT as a “thought partner” with the CDC.
Levine writes, “With the CDC preparing to write that schools could provide in-person instruction regardless of community spread of the virus, Trautner argued for the inclusion of a line reading “in the event of high community-transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.” This exact language appeared on page 22 of the final CDC guidance.”
The AFT also demanded special remote work concessions for teachers “who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk for Covid-19,” and that similar arrangements should extend to “staff who have a household member” with similar risks. This also made it into the final text.
Dr. Walensky clearly changed her tune after the White House, and the AFT, intervened. Even liberal CNN anchor Jake Tapper was amazed when interviewing Dr. Walensky just a few days later on February 14. Tapper asked, “Can you point to any scientific reason for students in the United States not to return to in person classes tomorrow?”
Walensky dodged the question with this response, “If you’re in middle school or high school we would advocate for virtual learning for that group. . . We really don’t want to bring communicable disease into the classroom.” She repeatedly refused to offer a scientific explanation for the re-opening avoidance. She said, “We all know that mask breaching is among the reasons that we have transmission within schools when it happens. Somewhere around 60% of students are reliably masking. That has to be universal. So, we have work to do.”
This clearly is a statement not supported by the CDC’s own scientific studies. Yet Walensky allowed herself to be used by the White House – and now we know the teachers unions – to further their agendas. This White House supports teachers unions – but not scientific studies. I suspected as much in earlier posts (CDC Director Caves to Politics, CDC Credibility Gone), but now we know for sure. It’s time to stop looking to the CDC or this White House for scientific guidance on the coronavirus pandemic.