Mixed messages from health experts leading the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has increased uncertainty and unease about how to handle the illness that has killed over 200,000 Americans since March.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines on how the virus spreads adding that it was possible to contract through airborne transmission with “small particles, such as those in aerosols.”
Prior to that update, health experts maintained the virus wasn’t spreading through the air, but most commonly passed through respiratory droplets of an infected person by talking, sneezing, coughing or landing on a hard surface.
Shortly after the posting, which made the CDC the first health agency in the world to declare airborne transmission, the center walked back its guidance removing the change from its website.
CDC Deputy Director Jay Butler said in response to the blunder that “it was a failure of process at CDC.
“Unfortunately an early draft of a revision went up without any technical review. We are returning to the earlier version and revisiting that process.”
This isn’t the first misstep at the CDC regarding guidelines for the virus.
Last month, they altered coronavirus testing guidelines to dissuade some asymptomatic individuals from getting tested despite growing evidence of these individuals spreading the virus, according to reports.
The center reversed course on that decision last week, following robust criticism from public health experts.
The CDC snafus continued with Director Robert Redfield saying that wearing a face mask may provide more protection against the virus than a potential vaccine.
Redfield also said it would likely be 2021 before any vaccine is available to most Americans. Soon after President Donald Trump contradicted Redfield’s statements.
“OK, number one, it’s not more effective, by any means, than a vaccine,” Trump said in response to the director’s comments. “And I called him about that. And I believe that if you ask him, he would probably say that he didn’t understand the question.”
Trump continued that Redfield was wrong about the timeline for a vaccine, as well.
“He made a mistake when he said that. It’s just incorrect information,” Trump said. “And I called him, and he didn’t tell me that, and I think he got the message maybe confused.”
Meanwhile, CNN reported Trump is losing patience with the CDC and White House Coronavirus Task Force officials after a series of mixed messages.
One of the points of contention appears to be Trump’s positive outlook on the containment of the virus repeatedly clashing with health experts.
CNN said Trump’s public undermining of the CDC chief is taking a toll on its staff, from top to bottom, employees say.
“The morale is as low as I’ve ever seen it and we have no confidence in our leadership,” a CDC official said. “People are miserable and it’s a shame because this pandemic is still flying away and we still need a robust public health response.”
FiveThirtyEight, an opinion poll analysis site tracking public response to the coronavirus pandemic found that, as of Sept. 25, 56.4 percent of those surveyed disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and 65.7 percent are worried or somewhat worried about infection.