CDC Director Rochelle Walensky sat for a 20-minute interview with Bret Baier this past Friday. I have posted the video at the bottom. The FOX News story on the interview pulls some pertinent and newsworthy exchanges. The interview certainly revealed the current politics permeating the CDC’s declarations and guidance. Walensky really ought to give it up and run for office.
I was particularly interested in one exchange that I haven’t seen quoted anywhere. Unfortunately, I had to listen to the video to transcribe Walensky’s response to questions posed at 4:45 by Dominic Marci of Vienna, Virginia. Marci asked when those of us who have been vaccinated will ever get back to normal and, when other variants come along, what metrics will dictate CDC recommendations.
Baier then interceded to “try to put a finer point” on Marci’s questions. “Now it does seem that we are trying to kill this virus entirely” rather than live with it. Baier asked: “Can you just answer his percentage point question?”
Plot spoiler: The answer is no, she cannot.
This is what Walensky said: “Thank you, Dominic. Thank you for that question. So I think it’s really important to recognize that as we think about the absolute number of people who are getting infected that is related to the number of people who have disease, the number of people who are vaccinated, and how well those vaccines worked. So it is actually quantitatively possible to have 95 percent protection from hospitalization and still have a lot of breakthrough infections if most of your population is vaccinated.”
Baier tried again. Walensky responded: “So I want to just articulate that this was not news that I expected the American people to welcome. This weighed heavily on me to have to do this, but I will also say that this virus has been humbling. I was taking care of patients a year ago. I joined the CDC six months ago and the science continues to change and, while that is neither simple nor easy to convey, it’s my responsibility to keep the American people safe and, as the science evolves, I evolve, with the CDC, the guidance [sic]. What I will say…I have no interest in continuing mask guidance and the best way to stop a new variant from spreading is to have less virus out there and the best way to do that is to get people vaccinated and to mask up until they are.”
Well, maybe she did answer the question in her own way after all.