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Abandonment of health measures threatens resurgence of COVID-19 in the United States

On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rescinded its mask-wearing guidelines, urging vaccinated people to stop wearing masks and socially distance in crowded areas.

the World Socialist Websitein line with statements from leading epidemiologists, warned that these guidelines would prompt companies, states and municipalities to remove all masking and social distancing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

These warnings have been confirmed. Almost all major retailers in the United States, including Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Walgreens, dropped nationwide masking requirements within days of the CDC’s decision, with no mechanism to check whether those entering in their facilities are vaccinated or not.

Members of the National Guard help process COVID-19 deaths and place them in temporary storage at the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office in Los Angeles, Jan. 12, 2021. (LA County Dept. of Medical Examiner-Coroner via AP)

Epidemiologists and occupational safety experts have strongly condemned the CDC’s action. “It’s such a mess!” Many of us are really upset. It’s incredibly frustrating!” Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, senior scientist at the Federation of American Scientists, told the World Socialist Website Last week. “Inevitably now, state after state and company after company, you don’t have to wear your masks if you’re vaccinated.”

Since the start of the pandemic, workplaces have been a central source of transmission and wider outbreaks. Removing any restrictions, in conditions where nearly two-thirds of the population are not fully vaccinated, will lead to increased cases and deaths.

More than 500 people continue to die from the disease every day in the United States. This translates to a death rate of 15,000 every month, or 182,500 every year.

The fact that hundreds of people die every day from a disease that could be stopped by aggressive public health measures is treated as a non-event in the media. When the official US death toll passed 600,000, the media simply ignored the milestone, just as it downplayed last week’s report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that the true number of deaths in the country is actually closer to one million.

Additionally, globally, new cases remain at or near record highs, and epidemiologists are warning of the dangers posed by new variants of COVID-19 emerging as the pandemic spreads around the world.

Every day, 600,000 people test positive for the disease, a figure that greatly underestimates its spread. Daily deaths are at more than 12,000. In India, the total death toll has exceeded 300,000. While the country records more than 4,000 deaths per day, given the extent of the undercount, the figure real could number in the tens of thousands. In Brazil, the official death toll is approaching half a million and the 65,000 daily new cases are just below the records set in March.

Germany on Sunday banned travel from the UK as a new variant of COVID-19 – called the B.1617.2 or “Indian” variant – is rapidly spreading across the country.

Dr. Feigl-Ding warned of the significant dangers posed by the new variant of the disease. “Watch out for the escalating #B16172 crisis in the UK – crucial because [the] The Indian variant affects us all,” Feigl-Ding wrote on Twitter. “It is now ~50% of all cases in England, which are rising rapidly, especially in children. The #COVID19 ward at Bolton Hospital is filling up.

He noted that the new variant “is progressing by leaps and bounds faster than any other variant. Previously fast #B117 grows much slower, 5 times slower than B16172. He continued, “Reinfections with #B16172 are also about ~4 times higher with B16172 compared to #B117 if we compare the rates of reinfections/variant cases found. 4x… that’s a lot.

The rise of variants of COVID-19, increasingly resistant to vaccines, justifies the greatest vigilance. Government policy, however, goes exactly in the opposite direction.

The CDC’s mask inversion has created the conditions for an even more dangerous move. The end of mask requirements in schools, endangering the lives of unvaccinated students as well as teachers.

On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott banned mask mandates in public schools, saying “no student, teacher, parent or other staff member or visitor can be required to wear a face covering.” On Thursday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds banned schools from requiring masks, and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster followed suit.

These actions come despite ample scientific evidence showing that masking significantly reduces the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore health commissioner, condemned the measures, noting that “unvaccinated children should remain masked around other unvaccinated people, including in schools. Nearly 1 in 4 new [COVID-19] infections are in children. We must help protect them. »

The reduction in COVID-19 cases in the United States is the result of mass vaccination which is the result of an unprecedented effort by scientists and academic institutions to create an entirely new class of vaccines in record time.

In a rational society, the reduction in COVID-19 cases would be used to bolster protections before what public health experts warn will be another resurgence in the fall. But the Biden administration is wasting what health officials call a temporary reprieve to abandon disease surveillance and containment measures.

On May 1, the CDC ended its monitoring of “breakthrough infections” of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated people, unless the illness results in hospitalization or death.

Like the withdrawal of masking recommendations, the move was condemned by epidemiologists, who warned it would leave the United States blind to the effects of novel COVID-19 variants.

“By the fact that the CDC doesn’t do that level of surveillance, it reminds me a lot of how I felt back in the Trump days: ‘You’re each on your own,'” said Dr. Kavita Patel, primary care physician and nonresident scholar at the Brookings Institution, told the Washington Post.

the To post paraphrased Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research in San Diego, saying “the CDC should be monitoring these people, as well as hospitalized and fatal cases, to determine if and how virus variants might evade vaccine protection. , help discover new variants and track how well certain vulnerable groups, such as immunocompromised people, are protected by vaccines.

The Biden White House, like the Trump White House before it, is seeking to convince the public to disregard the continuing pandemic — in many cases, by leading by example.

The attitude inside the White House was summed up by a recent NPR headline: “How the Biden White House Learned to Drop the Masks and Stop Worrying.”

“At the Biden White House,” NPR wrote, “it’s like 2019, with big, largely maskless events in the East Room on Thursday and Friday.” When asked if the White House even monitors whether those present are vaccinated or not, White House press secretary Jen Psaki bluntly told NPR, “That’s not the role We are going to play”.

As with similar protests under Trump, such callous disregard for public health and safety is directly intended to send a message: the pandemic is over. There can no longer be any obstacle, in the name of the preservation of public health, to the accumulation of private profit.

The Biden administration’s stance channels demands from big business, which sees efforts to save lives from COVID-19 as an unacceptable encroachment on extracting profits from the working class.

If the response to the pandemic is left in the hands of this financial oligarchy, the disease that has already killed nearly a million people in the United States will claim the lives of countless others. There is an urgent need for workers to take the fight against the pandemic into their own hands, both through the fight to create rank-and-file safety committees in the workplaces and through the political struggle against the capitalist system which subordinates human life to profit. private.