Why is the CDC so reactionary, illogical and, uh, unscientific?

Their most recent isolation “guidance” is a case in point.

With covid-omicron spreading like wildfire and seeming to close in on all of us (me included) … and with workforces getting depleted by quarantined workers, the CDC stepped in to save the day by issuing revised isolation guidelines, specifically:

Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation for the public.

People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), then…

People should follow that (isolation period) by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter. CDC

Let’s unpack that guidance…


First, when does the clock start running?

For somebody who who develops symptoms, I guess it’s when “the” symptoms first present themselves.

My questions:

(1) Do cold-like sniffles count as “symptoms”? What’s the best indicator that I may have caught it? How indicative is a fever?

(2) What to do if I am officially symptomatic? Isolate, for sure … but, go see a doctor?

Note: At local walk-in clinics, people are waiting 4 to 6 hours in a room filled with 50 to 100 sick-likely people.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?


What about infectees who are asymptomatic?

For them, I guess that the clock starts for when they test positive.

Let’s pretend that they’re inclined to get tested (say, because other members of their household are symptomatic or have tested positive … or because their employer or airline requires a test).

These folks can’t do-it-themselves now because of the scarcity of in-home rapid tests.

Of course, they have the option of waiting in line for a couple of hours to get a “commercial” PCR test.

Note: Lines are running around the block at local testing sites.  Again, sounds like a recipe for disaster since most of the people in line are symptomatic.


Once the clock starts…

OK, this part of the CDC guidance is pretty clear: isolate for 5 days.

But, things get murky after that isolation period.

The CDC says:

After infectees isolate for 5 days, if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (e.g. no fever for 24 hours), then…

They should follow that (isolation period) by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others

The criteria “asymptomatic or symptoms resolving” is most problematic.


What about rapid tests?

In the UK and several other countries, that free-of-isolation criteria is supplemented by the need for a negative covid test … rapid tests qualify.

So, why isn’t the CDC advising a negative covid test?

Cynics observe that the omission of negative tests in the guidance is simply cover for the Biden Administration’s slow-roll on the development and production of antigen rapid tests.

The official CDC announcement says:

The guidance is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after infection. CDC

More specifically, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told CNN that the CDC chose five days because that’s typically the period when individuals are most infectious.

“Those five days account for somewhere between 85 to 90 percent of all transmission that occurs”

So far,so good.

But then she added:

“We opted not to advise the rapid test for isolation because we actually don’t know how our rapid tests perform and how well they predict whether you’re transmissible during the end of disease. Source

Say, what?

So, if I have this right…

Biden has ordered up 500 million in-home rapid tests … but the CDC doesn’t “actually know how well rapid tests perform and how well they predict transmissible presence of the virus”.

If that isn’t dizziness-inducing enough, Dr. Fauci, Biden’s chief political scientist, was his usual ubiquitous self on Sunday TV hinting that the CDC would soon be adding a testing requirement after all. Source


My take: It would be a lot easier to “follow the science” if “the science” weren’t so reactionary, illogical, impractical and, well, unscientific.

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