A growing number of health officials and scientists are calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to release data behind its decision to recommend that COVID-19 vaccinated people wear masks in high-transmission areas.
One of them, New York City Health and Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, said he’s reluctant to follow the agency’s guidelines on universal masking.
“While the CDC issued their guidance yesterday at about 3 p.m., they have not yet released their scientific reports on the data that underlies their recommendation,” Katz said at a news conference. “I think we owe it to New Yorkers to very carefully, as you say, review that information and understand its implications,” Katz added. “Our focus has to be on getting people vaccinated.”
A spokesperson for the CDC told The Epoch Times on Thursday that the “first publication” of the data it used for the guidance will be published tomorrow.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a news conference with Katz, suggested that he will delay action around mask-wearing until the data is released.
“We’re assessing the information. What really is important is to assess the research behind it. Which is what our team is doing,” the mayor said. “We’ve got to make sure we understand the ramifications and what makes sense to do.”
Several states, cities, the White House, Congress, businesses, and federal agencies have already adopted the CDC’s latest mask guidelines. The reason why mask-wearing is recommended for some areas, said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, is because some vaccinated individuals may be contagious and pass the virus to other people.
When contacted by The Epoch Times on Wednesday, a CDC spokesperson said the studies the agency cited for its latest guidance haven’t yet been published. As for when they will be available, it’s not clear.
CDC guidance posted on its website Tuesday cited “unpublished data” reviewed by the agency’s COVID-19 Response Team.
Federal health officials have not yet issued any public comments about the possibility of mass non-compliance with the CDC’s guidelines even as de Blasio and several other high-profile Democrat officials hesitate to implement masking rules.
And it’s not just elected officials asking questions about the missing CDC studies and data.
“They’re making a claim that people with delta who are vaccinated and unvaccinated have similar levels of viral load, but nobody knows what that means,” Gregg Gonsalves, an associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health, told The Washington Post. “It’s meaningless unless we see the data.”
Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, wondered whether there are more COVID-19 cases among vaccinated individuals “because the virus is better and the vaccines don’t hold up quite as well, or is the efficacy of the vaccines beginning to wane, independent of the Delta” COVID-19 variant.
“This is three-dimensional chess, there’s a hundred things going on at the same time,” he said.
The CDC has not mandated that people wear masks, leaving it up to states and municipalities. Throughout the pandemic, some governors and mayors have closely followed the agency’s guidelines.
Kansas City Gov. Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, said Wednesday that he will reinstate a citywide mask mandate that will last until Aug. 28.
Lucas explained that he’s “followed the guidance issued by our nation’s leading scientific experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” since the pandemic’s start and will continue to do so.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the CDC for additional comment.
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.