On Friday, February 28th the CDC revised its Covid Risk Formula which resulted in a dramatic change in the number of “high risk” counties in the United States. With the wave of its magical data wand, the CDC was able to eliminate a full 60% of US “high risk” areas virtually overnight.
What was once a country loaded with 90% ‘risk areas’ became a nation that was burdened by only 30% of these ‘danger zones.’
The ever-shifting narrative seemed to be altered by definitional “clarifications” and various accounting jujitsu rather than any measurable changes in the on-the-ground realities.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement to CNN. “Now it’s time to focus on severity, not just cases, of COVID.”
What changed? Why was severity not the relevant metric in 2020-2021?
This seemed to create some confusion and rushed alterations in various county health departments.
For example, in Tompkins County, NY, a story came out on Monday, February 28th by Rachel Cera, titled: Mask advisory in effect as Tompkins County is at “high” COVID level under new CDC framework. Shortly thereafter, also on the 28th, Mark H. Anbinder wrote a story in the same journal titled, As Tompkins County drops to “low” COVID level, Health Department suspends mask advisory.
In the initial report by Rachel Cera, the Tompkins County Health Department is quoted as saying that “Tompkins County’s mask advisory will stay in effect as Tompkins County is currently listed as having a “high” community COVID-19 level under the CDC’s new framework.”
In the follow-up report from Mark H. Anbinder states, “The Tompkins County Health Department announced at the end of the day on Friday that a mask advisory would remain in effect, with Tompkins County at a “high” level under the new CDC framework, but on Monday afternoon, they announced they were suspending that advisory.”
These instances of confusion as seen in the reportage in Tompkins County, NY are not an artifact of timeliness, they are the outcome of revisionary health policies by the CDC. These are not the exceptions, they seem to have been the standard practices of how the CDC, county health departments, and the media have distorted, altered, and reported definitions based on the political necessity to suit a specific narrative.
All of this when placed in the context of the current administration’s plummeting polling numbers, a recently leaked memo from a Democratic pollster and tonight’s State of the Union Speech suggest that the Democrats are looking to ‘claim victory’ over Covid and disappear it from view altogether as the mid-term election season approaches.
Among the many lessons we have learned over the past two years on “all things Covid,” is that the goalposts are always in motion and not due to the “changing science” but due to the changing political landscape.