Last week was Workers Memorial Week, and workers and their supporters around the country marked the occasion by remembering those killed on the job and by occupational illnesses. It was also an occasion to call for changes to make workplaces safer and prevent future fatalities.
The public health community was alarmed by CDC’s May guidance indicating vaccinated people could stop wearing masks. On July 27th, CDC updated its guidance to advise that fully vaccinated people “wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.”
CDC guidance for vaccinated individuals, an OSHA emergency standard, and an FDA drug approval decision are bad news for public health and show that the Biden administration isn’t always living up to its stated commitments to equity and evidence-based policy.
On January 21, President Biden signed an executive order directing OSHA to consider issuing an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from COVID-19, with a March 15 deadline. More than a month later, workers are still waiting.
The Trump administration’s attacks on the science and scientists we need to control COVID-19’s toll have been so frequent that it’s easy to become numb to them. But news of Trump administration interference with CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports is still a horrible shock.
Recently, public health experts and supporters have issued several letters to the Trump administration urging it to do a better job using evidence, data, and scientific experts to control coronavirus spread.
HHS now requires hospitals to report their COVID-19 data to a new database managed by a private company, instead of to CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network. Public health leaders are alarmed at the shift, which has implications for access to data, transparency, and public trust.
Instead of addressing very reasonable concerns, President Trump and Vice President Pence doubled down on denial of just how severe the situation is, and pushed for schools to reopen regardless of conditions.
During public health crises, the use of art to convey messages of social change is not a new idea.