The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed their mask recommendations Tuesday, one day after claiming that people who have been vaccinated could resume their normal lives.
“You’re fully vaccinated 2 weeks after getting your last #COVID19 vaccine,” the CDC said on Twitter. “Get vaccinated as soon as you can so you can get back to doing the things you love.” The organization also posted an advertisement encouraging people to get vaccinated so they don’t “miss out” on activities.
You’re fully vaccinated 2 weeks after getting your last #COVID19 vaccine. Get vaccinated as soon as you can so you can get back to doing the things you love.
— CDC (@CDCgov) July 26, 2021
The CDC updated its mask guidance Tuesday; it told fully-vaccinated Americans “in areas with substantial and high transmission” to wear masks indoors to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. It also recommended that all students in K-12 schools wear masks regardless of their vaccination status.
Throughout the pandemic, guidance from the CDC has been inconsistent, according to multiple reports. (RELATED: CDC Tells All Students K-12 To Mask Up, Even If Fully Vaccinated)
Towards the end of February, CDC Director Robert Redfield said on national television that the threat of coronavirus was low and that “the American public needs to go on with their normal lives,” USA Today reported. An investigation from the outlet found that the CDC failed to provide answers to state health officials who asked for guidance, undermined officials who suggested a more aggressive pandemic response, and even edited a government science journal in late March to remove a call for more testing in nursing homes.
One MIT study found that the risk of virus transmission indoors was the same indoors whether three feet away or 60 feet away from someone, proving that the CDC’s “six-foot” distance rule was not fully grounded in data, according to the New York Post.
The CDC also recommended wearing masks outdoors, despite evidence showing that there is very little risk of catching COVID while outdoors.
Even after the vaccine was developed, the CDC still struggled to maintain consistency in its messaging. The organization announced that it was safe for fully vaccinated passengers to travel, but CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on the same day that the CDC was “not recommending travel at this time,” Fox News reported.
In July of 2020, Wakensky told Massachusetts officials that “if people are masked it is quite safe and much more practical to be at 3 feet” in schools. In February, she changed her tune on a call with reporters and said that “schools should require physical distancing of at least six feet.” Walensky claimed that “direct changes to the guidelines were made as a result of” listening sessions with “education and public-health partners.”
Guidance on school reopenings has also been inconsistent, according to the Government Accountability Office. It found that “portions of CDC’s guidance on reopening K-12 schools are inconsistent, and some federal guidance appears misaligned with CDC’s risk-based approach on school operating status,” according to CBS News White House reporter Kathryn Watson.
The result of inconsistent guidance and unclear messaging was an undeniable erosion of trust in the CDC. NPR found that only 52% of Americans had a “great deal of trust” in the CDC. 45% of respondents said that they “somewhat” trusted the CDC or did not trust them at all.