Report: White House Frustrated with CDC’s Wavering Health Guidelines, Shifting Messaging Tactics

Rochelle Walensky, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), left, and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listen during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times via AP, Pool

The White House is reportedly frustrated with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) wavering health guidelines and shifting messaging tactics.

While the CDC has altered its health guidelines multiple times over the course of the year, CNN reported the White House is growing disconcerted over the CDC’s disconnect “between an inherently political operation and one driven by public health experts.”

Moreover, within the CDC, scientists are reportedly disgruntled, seeing the ever-shifting health guidelines as overly “political” and based on “economic considerations” and not on science.

A White House official told CNN the internal deliberations of the CDC are secret and go without feedback from “people who could help address real issues.”

“They make insular decisions with the agency — or even within a small group within the agency — and then wait until the last minute to tell everyone it’s coming, so they rush it out without getting reasonable feedback from people who could help address real issues,” the official said.

After the health guidelines are decided upon, they must be communicated to the public. But a former White House official described the CDC’s messaging strategy of its health guidelines as “overthinking” and “too careful.”

“I think they’re being way too careful and they’re overthinking their messaging,” the former official said. “They’re smart people and they’re guilty of just being a little bit in a bubble and overthinking things.”

To reduce the confusion, director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, has apparently hired “prominent Democratic media consultant Mandy Grunwald to improve her communication skills.”

The chaos within the Biden administration comes as the nation’s health experts have reversed health guidelines throughout the year. In May, Walensky told the nation it was safe to not wear masks indoors. She reversed her opinion months later.

In February, Walensky advised the nation that “teachers did not need to be fully vaccinated for schools to reopen; a day later, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Walensky was speaking in her ‘personal capacity.'”

Walenksy also altered course in December, telling the nation that those infected with the Chinese virus only had to quarantine for five days, a revision from the ten-day recommended isolation period.

After those five days, she recommended mask-wearing for five more. “Confusion ensued, with some outside experts urging the CDC to add a recommendation for a rapid antigen test at the end of the first five days,” CNN reported.

Walenksy defended the rule change but again changed her opinion days later. She then suggested that after quarantining five days, people should be tested for coronavirus, if they can find a test. If the test showed a positive result, the CDC recommended five more days of isolation.

The chaos within President Biden’s administration is indicative of year-long broken promises. In 2020, Biden promised more than ten times to shut down the virus. But after the delta and omicron variants, Biden told the nation in December there is no federal solution to tamping down coronavirus.

The president also promised he would not place vaccine mandates on individuals. He reversed course, mandating federal contractors to get the jab, along with employees working for businesses with 100 employees or more.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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