The U.S. government estimates that as many as 23 million Americans already have long-term covidence, although patient advocates believe it is an understatement. Young and healthy people may face long-term health consequences that may jeopardize their ability to work, including in the case of asymptomatic infection or vaccination.
That’s why many public health experts say the Biden administration’s focus on preventing hospitalization for infections is a bad strategy that ignores the potential of millions of new patients or disabled Americans to further strain the health care system and potentially exacerbate labor shortages.
“You can’t say you’re worried about a long Covid and then lay out instructions that only care about hospitalization. They are incompatible, ”said Lakshmi Ganapati, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Harvard Medical School.
White House spokesman Kevin Munoz noted the administration’s commitment to the long-running Covid and pointed to a 10-page newsletter the administration has published on the subject. Some health experts agree with the administration’s approach, noting that for most people, vaccines provide strong protection against serious illness and death, and people need to manage their own risk.
The country has an average of more than 37,000 infections per day, which is 45 more interest over the past two weeks, reports Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These figures are probably underestimated given the prevalence of rapid tests, which are not often reported to health departments.
The recent surge, caused by more contagious sub-options of Omicron, has led to the reintroduction of mandates for masks in Philadelphia, several campuses around the District of Columbia to return to distance learning or indoor masks and all University of Connecticut campuses again require face masks in class.
But the CDC did not change its stance on indoor camouflage, and on Monday a federal judge revoked his mandate on planes and trains, hitting weakened immune systems and other people at increased risk for severe Covid-19 disease, as well as children under 5 who cannot yet be vaccinated.
The CDC said Wednesday it would ask the Justice Department to appeal the ruling, even after some inside the White House claimed it little political benefit from the struggle for the CDC mandate considered completion in early May. It is worth noting that a recent poll conducted by POLITICO / Morning Consult found that 59 percent of voters supported extending the CDC’s mandate on road masks, and 49 percent said they would stop too soon.
The White House and federal health officials, meanwhile, attend crowded events indoors without masks and testing, even as some administrative aides are anxiously growing the number of cases and quietly wondering whether they misunderstood the moment.
Next week, senior health officials, including Anthony Foci, Health Minister Xavier Besser and Surgeon General Vivek Merty, will speak at a conference in the District of Columbia organized by the American Hospital Association. Colin Milligan, an AHA spokeswoman, said there would be increased ventilation in the room, but no requirements for a mask, testing or vaccine.
Biden officials are “trying to project this carefreeness that we are back to normal, even in DC, in these corridors of power,” said Greg Gonzalves, an infectious disease expert at Yale University. “It seems that they don’t care, and infections don’t matter … It’s all about political expediency and optics most of all, and it’s completely depressing.”
According to critics, such an approach could haunt the country because of the long-term health risks of infection, including those vaccinated.
“I want the administration to remember that downplaying cases is a very dangerous and inaccurate approach,” said Abraar Qur’an, an infectious disease doctor at Stanford University, who called the administration’s behavior “cognitive dissonance.”
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Several health experts say the administration’s symbolic risk is the Gridiron Club dinner this month, during which more than 600 Democratic and Republican officials played with the press, including POLITICO, for hours without masks. indoors. More than 13 percent of the 625 revelers later fared, including White House aides, New York Mayor Eric Adams, journalists and at least two cabinet secretaries.
Tom DeFrank, president of the Gridiron Club and a White House veteran correspondent, said he did not know of anyone taking precautions other than vaccinations, including Biden officials. The first invitation was received by Foci, who said he would be “happy” to come. “The fact that he is coming is a good sign for all of us,” he said.
A Foci spokesman said he felt comfortable and was not among the 85 guests who became infected.
“We don’t want fluff to get infected,” Foci said told ABC News among the precipitation. “I think people sometimes think it’s normal to get infected. No, it’s not because there are things like long covid. “
The administration declined to provide for comment Foci or Rachel Valensky, director of the CDC.
CDC spokesman Jason MacDonald said the agency recommends people take tests before indoor gatherings, but added that “this event is an example of what life can look like with COVID-19,” without deaths or hospitalizations due to high vaccine coverage.
Critics of the administration, such as Ganapati, say the example highlights the dangers of guidelines that encourage people to assess risk for themselves rather than the public.
“The CDC provides cover for all these actions,” Ganapati said. “It will be very difficult to go against this because we believe that the CDC is the main authority, if not the whole world.”
Julia Raifman, an associate professor of health care at Boston University, said super-common events like Gridiron are bad for everyone.
“It affects the whole community to have 80 transmission chains,” she said.
In recent days, several counties in the District of Columbia have stepped up their protection against Covid in response to the rise in infection in the city, she noted. Howard University has moved on to distance learning by the end of the semester, and George Washington University and the American University have renewed indoor mask requirements.
Prevention of infections is also key to preventing more people from contracting Covid, as it is believed that a single vaccination potentially reduces but does not eliminate the risk. Foci estimated that somewhere between 5 and about 30 percent of people who become infected will get Covid. For some it may mean difficulty breathing or a prolonged cough, and for others – debilitating fatigue and cognitive dysfunction.
Stanford infectious disease doctor Koran said he was concerned about the spread of the virus even among those vaccinated.
“Clinically, we know that the virus does amazing things to people. We know that it causes significant diseases that we do not fully understand, ”he said. “The public doesn’t understand how long Kovid has been unknown.”
Koran was infected in January after evading the virus for two years. Although he is about 30 years old, he is healthy and energetic, for several months he had prolonged symptoms that prevented him from climbing stairs and exercising.
Celine Gunder, an infectious disease doctor who advised Biden’s transition to respond to Covid-19, and several other health experts said event organizers could make public gatherings safer by requiring rapid testing and improved ventilation.
In the absence of strong CDC recommendations to do so, event organizers are unlikely to take mitigation measures, said Jeremy Faust, an ambulance doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.
The White House Correspondents Association dinner, scheduled for April 30, recently raised its requirements to include vaccination as well as a negative test on the same day. President Joe Biden and the First Lady plan to attend, according to the association.
But other recent DC events involving administration officials have not taken any action.
“We can’t just look at poll numbers and wave our hands,” said Raifman of Boston University. “We don’t interview people to see if they want to limit speed.
“Part of a functioning society,” she added, “should soften the amount of Covid in the air.”