Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was confronted on Sunday with the notion that the public’s “trust and confidence” in the CDC has plummeted recently amid confusion over the agency’s COVID-19 guidance.
Defending the constantly changing guidelines as the result of “ever-evolving science,” Walensky added that it “is hard” to continually provide updated recommendations as the virus mutates and the pandemic rages on.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Walensky was first pressed by anchor Bret Baier on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's dubious claim that over 100,000 children were in “serious condition” with COVID-19, many of them on ventilators.
“While pediatric hospitalizations are rising, they are still about 15-fold less than hospitalizations of our older age demographics,” Walensky stated after confirming that there are only about 3,500 children currently hospitalized with the virus.
After grilling the CDC boss on vaccine mandates, the overall effectiveness of vaccines, and the severity of the Omicron variant, Baier then wondered aloud if the agency would “take natural immunity seriously” before criticizing the White House’s rhetoric towards unvaccinated people.
“As recently as this past week, President Biden called it ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated.’ According to your CDC data, the Omicron variant accounts for 95.4 percent of cases, Delta is 4.6 percent of cases,” the veteran newsman stated. “Again, the vaccinated are getting this infection, they are transmitting it to others. Considering all of that and these percentages, how is it that ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ is a terminology that should be used?”
Pushing back, Walensky noted that vaccinations still provide up to 70 percent protection against infection before pointing out that the vast majority of people ending up in the hospital with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, even now.
The Fox News anchor quickly pivoted to the rising criticism her agency has faced over the latest guidelines on isolation and testing.
“Dr. Walensky, you mentioned the confusion about the guidance and over the past year, the most recent example, obviously, is on isolation and testing, but other guidance is the mask-wearing [and] educators being vaccinated before returning to the classroom,” he proclaimed. “Before you took this job officially, you emphasized that one of your primary goals was to restore public trust. But in this time, do you think that it’s fair to say that the trust and confidence the public has gone down with the CDC?”
Thanking Baier for his question, Walensky proceeded to launch into a defense of the CDC’s handling of COVID-19 recommendations. At the same time, she conceded that it has been difficult lately.
“You know, this is hard,” she admitted. “We have ever-evolving science with an ever-evolving variant, and my job is to provide updated guidance in the context of rapidly rising cases.”
Walensky continued: “That is what we’ve done, and I am here to explain it to the American people. And I’m committed to continuing to do so and to continuing to improve.”
“We appreciate you coming on, we really do,” Baier reacted. “I’m just getting facts out there.”
Baier’s pointed line of questioning comes after CNN reported last week that Walensky had “sought out media training” last fall amid a “series of messaging missteps” in her position as CDC chief. Over the past few months, according to CNN, Walensky has enlisted the help of high-profile Democratic media consultant Mandy Grunwald.