The CDC confirms its own uselessness

More than a year after Joe Biden declared victory in the battle against Covid, the CDC has called it: the pandemic is over.

Well, sort of. Announcing the publication of revised guidance yesterday, CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti insisted that the updated advice “acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where Covid-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Ignore Massetti’s throat-clearing. The guidance’s marked change in tone speaks for itself. All social distancing recommendations have been dropped and those exposed to the virus are no longer advised to quarantine for those exposed to the virus. Testing to screen for Covid is no longer recommended for people who do not have any symptoms.

The update — and our reaction to it — is another sign of just how unfit fit for purpose our public health bureaucracy is. For understandable reasons, most people stopped listening to the CDC months ago. And so very few people will update their Covid-related decision-making based on the change in advice. What will go, one hopes, are the few remaining disruptive mass-testing and quarantine protocols in schools and other public settings — some of the last barriers standing between Americans and business as usual.

Officialdom, in its spectacular sluggishness, is doing nothing more than catching up to where the overwhelming majority of the country has been for some time. Meanwhile, die-hard Covid warriors adamant about the importance of following the science are ignoring the experts they urged us to listen to over the last two years. Rather than accepting the CDC’s advice to get back to normal, they are lamenting what they see as a reckless change of course.

Perhaps the CDC’s most notable change is its about-turn on vaccination status. The official guidance no longer recommends drawing any distinction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, saying that to do so makes little sense given breakthrough cases, waning immunity and vaccination rates. In other words: a view that was enough to get you banned from Twitter only months ago is now the official public health guidance.

Much is made of the crisis of trust in American institutions. But the real crisis is one of trustworthiness: if only America had more institutions worthy of our trust. The CDC to the top of the list of institutions that fall short. And its latest Covid update, while a step in the right direction on actual policy, is little more than a reminder of its uselessness.

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Americans deserve better than anonymous leaks on the Mar-a-Lago raid

There was a deafening silence in the hours and days after Monday’s FBI raid of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. In that vacuum, all manner of questions remained unanswered and confusion reigned. And when Merrick Garland spoke yesterday, delivering a short statement from a Department of Justice podium and not taking any questions, he didn’t exactly clear things up. The attorney general said that he had “personally approved” the decision to seek a warrant for the search of the former president’s residence and that his department did not take such a decision lightly. (In a point of public agreement, Trump and Garland both agree that the warrant should be made public.) Garland was, understandably, eager to present himself as whiter-than-white and an unimpeachable servant of the rule of law. There was, he said, only so much he could say.

Garland’s ostentatiously judicious tone makes it all the more maddening to see anonymously sourced leaks from the Justice Department become the main way in which the public learns more about this story. After Garland spoke, “sources close to the investigation” informed the Washington Post that the FBI came to Mar-a-Lago looking for “nuclear documents.” Whatever the facts of the case, and the merits of this investigation, this drip-drip of innuendo-laden, unverified detail is a repeat of the same mistakes made during Robert Mueller’s Special Council investigation — and a reason why so many Americans will have so little trust in the process.

The race tightens

A new Fox News poll is the latest indicator of a tightening midterm contest. In the generic congressional ballot poll, the poll puts the two parties neck and neck on 41 percent, when the GOP had a three-point lead in July. The most striking finding: that the shift is largely down to a change in voting preference among women. In May they preferred the generic Republican candidate by one point. This time they opted for the Democratic candidate by a five-point margin. That change would suggest that abortion is becoming a growing liability for Republicans.

One thing that hasn’t changed? Inflation’s unrivaled status as the most important issue for the electorate, with 41 percent of voters identifying it as their top issue this month — the same figure as in June.

What you should be reading today

David Marcus: Don’t blame Texas for New York’s immigration ‘crisis’
Matt Purple: Them dog days
Freddy Gray: Biden does his best banana republic impression
Andrew Stiles, Washington Free Beacon: Meet the elite historians helping Joe Biden save democracy
Jason Furman, Wall Street Journal: One good inflation report isn’t enough
Jack Shafer, Politico: Alex Jones and the lie economy

Poll watch

President Biden job approval
Approve: 40.3 percent
Disapprove: 55.9 percent
Net approval: -15.6 (RCP Average)

Wyoming congressional district-at-large Republican primary
Liz Cheney: 28 percent
Harriet Hageman: 57 percent (University of Wyoming)

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