The COVID pandemic may finally be waning as case numbers drop dramatically, but there are many who don’t want to give up.
The virologists and public health specialists who have left their labs and lecterns to publicly pontificate don’t want to give up the rush of a camera moment or the glamor of a satellite camera truck arriving at their doorstep. Professors who were used to students falling asleep in their lectures suddenly entered a two-year hotbed of social media warfare and saw their Twitter following numbers soar into the hundreds of thousands.
Politicians who sat down and justified themselves with mandates and restrictions without regard to the cruel consequences in terms of mental and physical health have now received the memo: Your number of polls is falling even as the number of cases is falling . The governors of several deeply “blue” states, including New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Connecticut and California, are responding by dropping their mask mandates without any associated changes in science.
People everywhere are echoing the famous line from the 1976 movie “Network”: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
Make no mistake, the virus itself has not completely left us; in fact, he’s likely to be with us for good in one form or another. And mitigation strategies are clearly helpful during a fierce outbreak, even if they only slow a virus down.
What is worthless is keeping the restrictions on for far too long. What doesn’t count is mockery and bombast, with self-proclaimed experts calling out misinformation and marginalizing those who disagree on social media and the internet. It is clear that vaccines, therapeutics, masks, ventilation and rapid tests have value. But there is no value in political strategies that are purely selfish. There is no value in refusing to lift restrictions even if the numbers drop dramatically.
The public is tired, not only of the pandemic, but of how it has been handled at all levels, from the news media to government, even to our best scientists.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on SiriusXM Doctor Radio last week vindicated to me the continued restrictions in schools as a way to keep them open at a time when, a- She said, the number of cases is still high. But the numbers continue to fall dramatically, and it’s time for the CDC to let go, to withdraw the mask and vaccine mandate guidelines at all levels. His statement to lawmakers this week that “advice is just advice” and CDC guidelines don’t necessarily have to be followed only created more confusion.
What we don’t need and never have needed are public health rebukes from a dazzled scientist or a vote-seeking politician. They are sure to keep us from assimilating COVID into our lives for their own ends.
Dr. Walensky can do better than that. It’s time for her to lead. We now have all the tools and knowledge we need to deal with COVID but also to start moving on. The CDC can help us get there sooner rather than continuing to hide our heads in the sand.
Marc Siegel, MD, is a clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health and a medical correspondent for Fox News.
New York Post