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Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention walks a tightrope in pandemic messaging

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rochelle WalenskyRochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, walks a tightrope in the pandemic message, Sunday’s program preview: Democrats are concerned about the passage of the infrastructure bill. Health experts warn of overnight health care for the fourth wave of coronavirus: CDC says people who are fully vaccinated can travel safely | Biden laments those who fight like COVID-19 | Vaccine passport will become the biggest campaign in 2022 ?more She finds herself in a delicate position as she strives to strike a balance between the optimism of increasing vaccination and the reality that the United States is still very much in a deadly pandemic.

Walensky started the CDC̵

7;s work with his reputation as a shrewd communicator, whose mission was to save the reputation of an institution that was beaten under the leadership of the Trump administration.

Valensky recently told reporters: “About two months ago, when I first went to work at the CDC, I promised you: Even if this is not the news we want to hear, I will tell you the truth.”

Like her predecessor, Walensky specializes in AIDS research Robert RedfieldDirector of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield (Robert Redfield), the spreading biologist Bret Weinstein, who closely follows the epidemic information, said that COVID-19 may have come from the laboratoryBefore being appointed as the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she was the head of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Although a former colleague said Varensky is a perfect fit for the CDC position, her skills are now being tested because she has been criticized for being too negative and hopeful.

Chris Baylor, a professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, said: “She is a compelling and clear communicator, but trying to get there is a series of challenging messages. “

Public health information transmission during the global pandemic is very complicated, but experts say that this particular moment is particularly difficult.

After several weeks of decline and then stagnation, the coronavirus infection rate in most parts of the country began to climb again. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases nationwide has increased by about 12% from the previous week, with an average of about 62,000 cases per day.

At the same time, nearly 100 million Americans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Many states are expanding the scope of the vaccine, and in some cases, even to all adults. Federal health officials said that by the end of May, there will be enough vaccines for everyone to vaccinate.

Valence basically tried to emphasize these two aspects when making an emotional appeal to the public.

Varensky said: “We have too many expectations, the prospects and potentials we are in, and reasons for hope. But now I am scared.” She added that she has “a sense of impending doom.” If people continue to ignore public health precautions.

However, almost in the next breath, she talked about a “very encouraging” new study that showed that vaccinated people are 90% protected from infection, which means that their risk of spreading the virus is extremely low.

Although this may be mixed messaging, experts say that it can not only accurately reflect the current situation, but also reflect the country’s response to the virus in the past year.

“Whipping is a true reflection of how we all experience this epidemic and how we reacted. Therefore, I would rather be honest with her and be honest with others than to give people something they want…make them feel more Good.” said Judith Auerbach, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

Auerbach once worked with Varensky in AIDS research. He praised the director’s frankness, and she said that during the Trump administration, the leadership did not take it seriously.

Auerbach said: “She is very honest with her emotions. This is very difficult for the Fed to do.” “Actually, all of us still need to be afraid of science because we are in the midst of a vaccine Competition… In contrast to the appearance of these variants, she felt it on the visceral level, and she conveyed it. In a way that I think is very telling.”

Glen Nowak, director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication at the University of Georgia and former director of media relations at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that Varensky’s frankness helps build credibility.

Novak said: “She accepted the fact that credibility comes from being transparent, honest and sincere about your fears and worries.”

The CDC declined to allow Volensky to be interviewed, but a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement to Hill that every communication reflects the latest science and epidemiology.

The spokesperson said: “Sometimes, we must always strike a balance between the hope that we are free from the pandemic and the reality that we have not yet freed from the pandemic.

“We acknowledge the challenge of communicating this hope and guarantee that vaccine morbidity and deaths are on the rise. While we are sending a vital message that people cannot and should not give up their preventive measures, we are still very Optimistic. What the future of a fully vaccinated public will provide.”

On Friday, Valence was criticized again for her information. In the latest guidelines, the CDC stated that people who have been fully vaccinated can travel safely.

But Volensky warned that the CDC still advises anyone (whether vaccinated or not) to avoid unnecessary travel because of the high number of infections.

Valensky said at the White House briefing: “We know that the number of cases is increasing sharply.” “I will oppose general travel as a whole. Our guidance does not recommend that people who are fully vaccinated travel. Our guidance is to do so.” Security.”

Novak said that part of what makes public health information so difficult is that science does not always deal with absolute problems, and the public as a whole does not do well in nuances.

“People usually don’t want to listen to subtle differences; they want stable advice and guidance. They are frustrated with changes, or frustrated when they seem contradictory. If changes do not match their daily lives, they will also feel frustrated. Experience, “Novak said.

With the help of the travel guide, Varensky tried to clarify the balance she was trying to achieve and asked the public to be patient and understanding.

Valensky said: “I want to admit today that it is complicated to provide guidance during the pandemic and its changing science.”

“Science has shown us that adequate vaccination can enable you to do more things safely, and it is important that we must provide guidance even when the number of cases continues to increase. At the same time, we must be based on science and the following facts. There is a balance between: Americans have not yet received adequate vaccinations, which is likely to lead to an increase in our cases.

Jen Kates, head of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, has known Varensky for decades. She said that the director of the CDC realized that she could not escape criticism, especially when so much. When a person suffers from pandemic fatigue.

Keites said that if the CDC is too strict and refuses to recognize relatively normal behavior, especially after vaccinations, it will likely make people refuse to shoot.

However, if the information provided by the agency is too optimistic, more people may act as if the pandemic is over, and may further spread the virus.

Keites said: “Public officials should always be aware that their words are being heard, and may be out of context, or people may be difficult to understand.” “Therefore, I think that Dr. Volensky is an excellent communicator, but not It means that this is always easy to do, and the balance is always straightforward.”

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