The long-standing debate between automatics and stick shifts in cars has taken a whole new twist as the nation’s health experts at the CDC can’t seem to choose “drive” or “reverse” as they release guidance on various aspects of their COVID 19 response. Two articles from Medscape highlight this inability to avoid appearing like a 16 year old trying to drive a stick shift for the first time. The car lurches backwards and forwards in fits and starts and loud noises. The CDC likewise has lurched back and forth between different assertions and recommendations. It’s a wonder that we are feeling just like the parent teaching the 16 year old to drive, a little car sick and dizzy.
To be fair, this whole fast paced pandemic research process publicized on international news deserves acknowledgement that science moves forward in fits and starts. Researchers work for years and then lunge forward with a new breakthrough, but then in another area new research overturns past theories seemingly sending us backwards or at least sideways. Normally these fits and starts of scientific breakthrough are not noticed by the general public. A few get media attention, but the vast majority are only recognized by those deep in that field of science.
With COVID 19, any breakthrough regardless of significance can be virally spread across the globe in hours only to be overturned days or weeks later with a different “breakthrough”. We can’t completely blame the CDC for the fast-paced changing landscape of COVID 19 knowledge. However, we can blame them for confusing us to no end with their hokey pokey exploits. They put their recommendations in and take them out and put them in again.
But this is not a game. This is about lives at stake, both in terms of life versus death and the economic livelihoods of millions when recommendations include lock-downs. We expect experienced drivers who can shift the gears from one scientific discovery to the next without giving us whiplash.
In one Medscape article, they discuss how the CDC changed their stance on whether or not exposed individuals without symptoms should or should not get tested. Some claim that the Trump administration made this a political issue when they urged against testing the asymptomatic. Many pushed back saying this would hinder public health infection control measures. In other media and social media outlets not mentioned, many agreed that testing asymptomatic individuals was overkill. In the end, who really knows what they are thinking. We have to discern as best we can with the information provided whether testing asymptomatic individuals is good or bad. I see arguments on both sides of the fence.
In another Medscape article, a hokey pokey guideline comedy is retold. The CDC initially released “new” guidelines stating that SARS CoV 2 is spread by aerosol droplets. This would mean that the droplets coming out of an infected patient’s mouth and nose were floating around in a room longer than just being a projectile that traveled 6 feet and fell on the ground. Then, in a “turn yourself about” kind of move, they took them back and said it was an accidental release of draft guidelines. My question, did someone at least get their hand slapped for misleading over 300 million Americans with this “oops”. Try this next time you turn in a college research paper. After you get a C+, tell your professor, that you “accidentally” turned in a draft and will be “resubmitting” a final version very soon. Ludicrous in both situations.
In both situations, the CDC can’t resort to the excuse of rapidly changing science on COVID 19. They need more transparency. They need more forethought. They need to apply wisdom. They need to say they are sorry. AND they need to learn how to use a stick shift.
One other good thing can be gleaned from this. The second Medscape article ends their summary of the comedy with noting that the update included a new recommendation to use air purifiers to “help reduce airborne germs in indoor spaces.” At least we can agree on that since our clinic was running Austin Air and Air Oasis purifiers prior to the epidemic to lower toxic exposures and infectious exposures for our clinic patients. A big part of helping others live healthier more abundant lives requires guiding patients smoothly through their health journey instead of following the CDC’s pattern of a teenage new stick shift driver.
CDC Reverses COVID-19 Testing Guidance Again: Exposed Without Symptoms Need Tests. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/937687. Accessed 9/26/2020
CDC Adds Then Retracts Aerosols as Main COVID-19 Mode of Transmission. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/937765. Accessed 9/26/2020
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.