The New Yorker has published a disturbing article by Emma Green (’The Case For Wearing Masks Forever’) on the political activists in America demanding we lockdown forever in the name of racial justice. They sound like textbook left-wing loons, but we know from bitter experience that these post-Christian, quasi-religious cults have a nasty habit of infecting state bureaucracies, particularly in public health – and that already appears to be happening with respect to this cult. Here how the article begins:
Last December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it was shortening the recommended isolation period for those with covid-19 to five days. Getting exposed to the virus no longer meant that people needed to quarantine, either, as long as they were fully vaccinated and wore a mask. It was a big moment, and it occurred just as the Omicron variant was surging. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, a Professor of Urban Policy and Health at the New School, was livid.
Fullilove, who is Black, has spent her career studying epidemics: first aids, then crack, then multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. She has seen how disease can ravage cities, especially in Black and working-class communities. From the beginning, Fullilove was skeptical of how the federal government handled the coronavirus pandemic. But these new recommendations from the C.D.C., she said, were “flying in the face of the science”. Not long after the announcement, she sent an e-mail to a Listserv called The Spirit of 1848, for progressive public-health practitioners. “Can we have a people’s CDC and give people good advice?” she asked. A flurry of responses came back.
What emerged was the People’s C.D.C.: a ragtag coalition of academics, doctors, activists, and artists who believe that the Government has left them to fend for themselves against COVID-19. As governments, schools, and businesses have scaled back their covid precautions, the members of the People’s C.D.C. have made it their mission to distribute information about the pandemic – what they see as real information, as opposed to what’s circulated by the actual C.D.C. They believe the C.D.C.’s data and guidelines have been distorted by powerful forces with vested interests in keeping people at work and keeping anxieties about the pandemic down. “The public has a right to a sound reading of the data that’s not influenced by politics and big business,” Fullilove said.
No one is in charge of the People’s C.D.C., and no one’s expertise is valued more than anyone else’s. The problems of “the pandemic and its response are rooted in hierarchical organisations”, Mary Jirmanus Saba, a filmmaker and one of the volunteers, told me. Roughly 40 people come to each weekly meeting, but many more are involved. (This spring, after a few of the group’s organisers published a manifesto of sorts in the Guardian, several thousand interested people reached out, Fullilove said.) The group sends out a weekly Weather Report – put together by a team composed, in part, of doctors and epidemiologists – summarising data about transmission rates, new variants, and death rates.