Grassley questions changing mask policies, says CDC has ‘poor public relations’
Sen. Chuck Grassley says the CDC has ‘poor public relations’ involving changing mask recommendations. (Photo courtesy of the State of Utah)
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday federal health officials’ changing recommendations on mask-wearing could test their credibility and confuse Iowans and other U.S. residents.
Grassley, R-Iowa, added that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has “poor public relations,” in his view.
Mask-wearing turned into a political controversy during the coronavirus pandemic, with many Republicans suggesting at times masks weren’t needed.
On Tuesday, CDC suggested everyone wear masks in schools and indoors in high-risk locations. Several GOP governors, including Iowa’s Kim Reynolds, pushed back. Reynolds said the CDC is sending “mixed messages.”
Grassley agreed that many are having a hard time keeping up with changing protocols.
“You know there’s a reluctance and kind of some negative reaction to what CDC and some schools are saying about (wearing) masks. Because you get these conflicting opinions,” Grassley told Iowa reporters during a weekly call.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease authority, told people early in the pandemic not to wear masks, and later said they should. “He’s been back and forth,” Grassley said.
Fauci initially told U.S. residents to save masks for doctors and other health professionals because there was a shortage.
“I’m not really giving you my opinion on masks,” Grassley said after a reporter asked if he supported CDC’s recommendation that people return to mask-wearing indoors in high-risk areas.
“I’m telling you how the federal government can take some action that will give them some credibility so when they say wear masks, wear masks. And if you don’t have to wear masks, you don’t have to wear masks.”
Now, Grassley says, CDC has new recommendations. “You have the CDC coming out yesterday and saying in about half of the counties of the United States, you have to wear a mask, and they don’t tell you why,” Grassley said.
CDC announced it was changing its recommendation due to a surge in the delta variant of COVID-19 and the prospect that even vaccinated people were spreading it.
Grassley: More data needed
Grassley said he would like CDC to present more data to back up its recommendations.
“It would be good if they would give this data, that’s so important backing it up, because they don’t have the credibility they ought to have. I don’t have any reason not to say they’re a credible organization, and that they do use science, but they sure have poor public relations.”
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