Updated: Jan 3, 2022
No doubt you've not heard that, on 12/27/21, the CDC drastically reduced its COVID quarantine and isolation guidelines. The former guidance was updated less than three weeks prior on 12/9/21.
CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, "It really had a lot to do with what we thought people would be able to tolerate." Maybe more people will isolate themselves if it's only for 5 days vs 10 days. Policy based on what we can tolerate? That doesn't sound like science. It sounds a bit like their other policies (not based on science)... like masks on kids in schools, perhaps?
In a social media post by Idaho Central District Health on 12/28/21, CDH claimed " The revision is due to scientific evidence that the majority of COVID-19 transmissions occur early on in the course of illness and average incubation period of the illness." but the link provided by CDH didn't provide ANY "scientific evidence" to support the update. What is this evidence? When was it discovered? Is it due to new information on Omicron? If so, how does that affect places that still have substantial transmission of the Delta variant? Or perhaps this is something the CDC has known for awhile and isn't specific to Omicron? If so, why was the guidance not updated as soon as it was discovered? Is it a way to get more people boosted? Doesn't this sound like what we've known about most common illnesses for decades?.... That a person is most contagious right before and around symptom onset and no longer contagious after symptoms resolve? Also, there has been significant evidence throughout the pandemic (1, 2, 3, 4) that asymptomatic individuals do not transmit COVID at high rates and the NFL is showing further evidence this is the case with Omicron. Even if asymptomatic individuals DID transmit Alpha and Delta, but they aren't driving Omicron transmission, shouldn't that be taken into consideration also?
Did you notice that vaccinated individuals are still not subjected to any type of quarantine when exposed, but not exhibiting symptoms, even though vaccinated individuals can easily contract and spread Omicron? How and why are there still no provisions for those who have been previously infected with COVID? If those who are vaccinated, those who have had prior infection and those who are not vaccinated and have never been infected are all able to contract and spread the disease, why is there any difference with regards to their isolation and quarantine guidance? If the updated guidance is in light of what we've learned about the Omicron variant being moretransmissible, but far less lethal than Delta or Alpha, why does the updated guidance continue to rely on mask wearing since, according to Dr. Leana Wen on CNN, cloth masks are not and have NEVER been appropriate for ANY of the COVID variants? Leana Wen talks about the need for surgical masks or better and equates cloth masks to "facial decorations", but provides no evidence that surgical masks offer protection against Omicron. In fact, a new article addressing the recent study submitted to the Cato Institute concludes "The available clinical evidence of face mask efficacy is of low quality and the best available clinical evidence has mostly failed to show efficacy". If there was ever a point to get away from mandatory masking and quarantining healthy students and staff, wouldn't now be the time? We know that the current BSD Covid protocol will not stop or even reduce the spread of Omicron and, even if it does, it's not preventing anyone from contracting it, only delaying when they contract it. Prior to vaccination, this may have been justifiable, but since everyone 5 and up is now eligible to receive a vaccine, delaying when a person inevitably contracts an illness has no value. According to Dr. Bramwell (one of BSD's main medical covid advisors) at the 12/17/21 CDH board meeting (Time stamp 44:39), "everyone's gonna get this". In fact, many disease experts are questioning whether using case counts to make decisions is beneficial or if it would be better to base decisions on hospitalization and death rates instead instead. We are now faced with a highly transmissible strain of COVID that, EVEN IF masks, social distancing, cancelling events, discriminating based on vaccine status, pods, etc. offered some protection previously, will not stop or slow transmission of Omicron. Although this strain is more transmissible and likely to evade natural and vaccine immunity, it is much LESS DANGEROUS than previous strains particularly to those with natural or vaccine protection. Additionally, children continue to be at very low risk (even lower than Alpha and Delta), all ages 5+ are now eligible for vaccination, if they so choose and, according to Chris Hayes of MSNBC, this is "more like the flu" for everyone except those most vulnerable and at- risk.
We also know that most of Idaho public school districts (all but 3 currently) and many schools around the county and world have been in-person, 5 days a week, not requiring masks, not quarantining healthy students nor segregating/discriminating based on vaccination status. The Boise School District has created false premises by making parents and staff think they HAVE to follow the CDC/CDH guidance AND choose between strict covid protocol and in-person school. But school districts around the state, county and world are 1.) making their own decisions and altering or outright ignoring the CDC school COVID guidance and 2.) showing that strict covid protocol are NOT necessary to maintaining in-person education. Since these COVID protocols are not without consequence, they should be abandoned immediately since they will accomplish nothing of value. As a CBS panelist said in a recent roundtable discussion, our kids "will be paying for our generation's decisions for the rest of their lives."