Really, Folks? The Guidance Has Been Pretty Consistent. Changes Match the Changing Virus
The Snivel We Hear
OK, snivel is admittedly a snarky word to start off this conversation, but it really does seem to me that a lot of people, the media in particular, is regularly crying out that there is so much guidance from so many sources, always in a state of flux. As a result, people are confused and don’t know what is expected of them.
To which I say, Poppycock. Yes, there is a lot of information out there, but the matter of confusion seems well overplayed to me. Surely the average American is clever enough to follow what needs to be done personally.
This excludes the nut jobs who still resist what is now well documented science and common sense to mask up, get shots, etc. There is not much the rest of us can do for them or to them at this point. The virus has the lead on dealing with these folks. The rest of us can figure this stuff out, and for the most part, are doing so just fine, thank you.
There Was a Problem in the Trump Administration
Admittedly, there was a serious communication problem during the Trump administration. Several government agencies put out communications on something like a pandemic, but the CDC generally has the lead and the credibility. The Trump team damn near destroyed that.
Political appointees modified scientific reports and website output, on political whims. People began to distrust our most important agency in a time of crisis. The president also decided that he should do daily press conferences to establish what was being done and needed to be done.
I watched almost all of those press conferences. I kept checking the TV schedule to see if perhaps I had stumbled into episodes of Saturday Night Live. These were surreal.
I felt the pain of medical professionals sharing the stage with him, trying to deal with Trump rambles on high intensity light, bleach, etc. After watching the first couple of these, I knew the rest of what was needed (distribution plans, national logistics priorities, testing, etc. had no hope of happening. It was obvious that hundreds of thousands were going to die needlessly.
But the Guidance Has Been Remarkably Clear and Consistent
From before its first day in office, the Biden administration cleaned up the communications mess, speaking out during the transition and empowering scientific and medical authorities to speak for the new administration.
The basic guidelines have been consistent from the earliest days. Internal elements within the broad guidance have changed as the science developed, but in logical ways. To wit:
- Wear a mask any time you are around people, especially indoors. Masks were not available at first, and over time we have learned that KN95/N95 masks are best, surgical masks are next best, and cloth masks are in last place. But always the message has been, mask up as best you can.
- Keep some space between you and others. From the first days, we have been advised to space out from each other, not to crowd. No there.
- Wash Up. Good advice anytime, right? We have learned overtime that transmission of the virus by touch is not much of a threat, but the guidance has continued to recommend better safe than sorry – wash up or sterilize as you can.
- Get shots – all of them. We have consistently been advised to get whatever shots we can when we can. Basic series, then boosters. Yes, some confusion over efficacy of one shot over another and when the right time is for boosters, but in general getting clarification from many reliable sources has always been available.
- Pay attention to symptoms. The list of symptoms prevalent at any given time are widely circulated and only a mouse click or phone call away for any needed clarification. If in doubt, get a checkup. Home test kits are coming online, just another tool in the Pay Attention Toolbox.
That’s it. Five pretty simple guidelines. Really not too complex, is it?
Welcome the Changes That Are Coming in Guidance
Yes, there have been changes and updates within these five guidelines from time to time, but that is a good thing. We are fighting a life-threatening disease that is a new threat. As knowledge is gained, it is applied and shared. I would be more worried about the opposite. If guidance did not evolve, that would tell us no one was doing the hard work of figuring out this thing and trying to get ahead of it.
That we did not know everything on Day One is not much of a surprise. That on occasion, there are stumbles (the very early talk about masks would not be needed, for example) is to be expected in such a situation. There have been remarkably few such problems.
End in Sight?
What has exhausted people has been the roller coaster ride to end this thing. It looked possible to bottle it up last Summer, until people started politicizing inoculations. We fell behind in the protection curve and in swept the Delta variant.
We began to make some progress there, although the antivaxxers continued (some of this should be prosecuted, in my humble view. People who knew better lied and people died. Still are – about 1700 every day).
People got hopeful for the holidays. Then the latest variant arrived, sweeping through the country like wildfire, including breakthrough infections (mostly mild, gratefully). People wonder if they will ever see normal again – they hesitate to hope. We all wonder what the long term effects will be on people.
But several indicators are promising, if not to banish this thing to at least bring it to an endemic, very manageable stage, perhaps in the very near term. Will that happen? Who knows? I do believe a lot of exceptionally bright and dedicated people all across the country are doing everything they can to make it happen.
In the meantime, I plan to thank and encourage them, and follow the advice We’ll get there yet.
Stay safe, follow the guidelines.
If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do two things:
(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here.
(2) Share the word about this blog with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts ( https://agentsofreason.com ). Let’s grow our circle.