CNN medical analyst Leana Wen said in an interview with Anderson Cooper that the decision to mask should shift from a government mandate to an individual choice, adding “the science has changed.”
Wen, who once compared unvaccinated Americans to drunk drivers, represents a startling and sudden shift in the narrative in the media and among politicians.
As The Hill noted yesterday, “Experts open the door to lifting last mask mandates”.
She initially told Cooper that people concerned about infection should be aided by the concept of one-way masking, particularly when it comes to children.
“I am not saying … no one should ever wear masks, but rather that the responsibility should shift from a government mandate imposed from the state or local district of the school, rather it should shift to an individual responsibility by the family,” Wen said.
She added families are still welcome to “decide that their child can wear a mask if needed.”
Just back in mid-December, Wen argued on CNN that states with high levels of COVID should have mask mandates.
To quote Bruce Willis in Die Hard: Welcome to the party, pal.
CNN medical analyst Leana Wen didn’t have some moment of clarity involving individual rights and the freedom to choose what’s best on a case-by-case basis.
Rather, she explains, the “science has changed.”
Wen was asked whether or not she agrees with some restrictions finally being lifted.
“I do. There was and is a time and place for pandemic restrictions,” she replied. “But when they were put in, it was always with the understanding that they would be removed as soon as we can.”
“The science has changed,” continued Wen. “We know that vaccines protect very well against omicron, which is the dominant variant.”
In yet another remarkable pivot in messaging, Wen also mentioned natural immunity in discussing levels of protection.
“So many people were exposed to omicron and therefore, have at least some level of protection,” she said, “either through vaccination or immunity.”
On Twitter, Wen seems to have an additional calculation for wanting to lift mask mandates especially at a time when public sentiment is starting to turn and COVID fatigue is setting in.
To preserve the “public health authority” she believes she and her colleagues currently enjoys.
Wen fears officials would lose grip on that authority if the public becomes too turned off by restrictions.
“In the coming days, we will see many Governors and local leaders lift mask mandates,” she tweeted.
“This is the right step, and marks a needed shift from government-imposed requirement to individual decision,” Wen added. “It helps to preserve public health authority for when it’s needed again.”
The White House meanwhile disagrees.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki relays that it is the administration’s stance that mask mandates should remain in place for schools, despite the “science having changed.”
“We recommend masking in schools. That is the recommendation from the CDC,” Psaki said in her daily briefing Monday.
Liberal governors in the states of New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut have all opted to end mask mandates for school children in their own states.
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