The Biden administration’s handling of the Delta surge has left Americans confused and frustrated, fueling media overreaction and political manipulation.
Why it matters: The past year and a half have left Americans cynical about the government’s COVID response, and — in many cases — misinformed or uninformed. We’re getting fog and reversals when steady, clear-eyed, factual information is needed more than ever.
Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.
The past five days were a mess. On Tuesday, the CDC updated its guidance to say vaccinated people in hot spots should wear masks in indoor, public settings — without an easy, definitive way to know if you’re in a hot spot.
This was a reversal from the CDC’s announcement on May 13 — 75 days earlier — that fully vaccinated people could shed masks in most indoor settings, which President Biden called “a great day for America in our long battle with the coronavirus.”
On Thursday, the Washington Post obtained a CDC deck that included the eye-opening line: “Delta variant is as transmissible as: – Chicken Pox.”
Yesterday, a CDC report showed the reversal was driven partly by a cluster of COVID cases in Provincetown, Mass., on Cape Cod, in which three-quarters of the infected people were fully vaccinated. Only a few people were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.
The resulting lead headline of today’s print New York Times: “IMMUNIZED PEOPLE CAN SPREAD VIRUS, THE C.D.C. REPORT.” The online version adds the vital qualifier: “Though Rarely.”
The alarmist coverage irritated the White House. A senior Biden administration official told CNN’s Oliver Darcy: “The media’s coverage doesn’t match the moment … It has been hyperbolic and frankly irresponsible in a way that hardens vaccine hesitancy.”
Ben Wakana of the White House COVID Response Team tweeted: “VACCINATED PEOPLE DO NOT TRANSMIT THE VIRUS AT THE SAME RATE AS UNVACCINATED PEOPLE AND IF YOU FAIL TO INCLUDE THAT CONTEXT YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”
Between the lines: Administration officials are awkwardly dancing around the fact that they’ve run out of politically palatable ways to try to convince people to get their shot.
The bottom line: If you’re vaccinated, sure, be more careful — but don’t stress out. If you’re unvaccinated and you can get a shot, go get it.
More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free