CDC Changes Guidelines Just in the Nick of Time

CDC changed its COVID guidelines just in time for President Biden’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday.


The Centers for Disease Control revised its COVID guidelines around masking Friday. These changes come just before President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday.

  • The new guidelines evaluate “low, medium and high transmission” based on hospital admissions and hospitalized patients, rather than just case counts. This change means 70 percent of the country has been reclassified as “low transmission,” with no recommendation for mask-wearing.
  • CDC’s moves come less than three weeks after the last blue state holdouts abandoned their indoor mask mandates. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky condemned their actions at the time, saying “now is not the moment.” Walensky has not yet explained what changed in the past three weeks to justify her abrupt policy reversal.
  • Congress removed its mask mandate on Monday before Biden’s address. This is a sharp reversal from just two weeks ago when Democrats mandated all members wear a KN95 or N95 mask in order to attend.
  • New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), one of the last holdouts on school mask mandates, announced she’d be ending New York State’s mandates on March 2. New York City Mayor Eric Adams said NYC would drop its school mandate on March 7.
  • CDC’s revisions come as Americans’ COVID concerns seem to be on the wane. Nearly half of the 500 million free COVID tests the Biden administration planned to distribute have not been claimed.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times dove into “10 consequential days,” offering an inside-the-administration view of how Biden “navigated war, Covid and the Supreme Court.”
  • The CDC’s reversal comes as the Washington Post reports Democrats are scrambling to prepare for midterm elections that by all indications will be brutal for president’s party.
  • AP interviewed several Americans, almost all of whom resided in major cities, who still wanted to wear masks after the mandates are lifted. Voluntary masking seems likely to continue among some segments of the population indefinitely.



  • Commentary argued Biden’s botched COVID response, along with his administration’s other failings ranging from Afghanistan to the border, are contributing to “what’s shaping up to be the biggest political shellacking in more than a decade.”
  • Fox News wrote that Biden may use the State of the Union to “declare victory” over COVID, even though the author argues Biden’s response has been a failure.
  • National Review published a dispatch from New York, where “the science” has suddenly changed and normalcy has returned – at least until Putin drops a nuke on Manhattan.

Author’s Take

Thankfully the Constitution mandates an annual State of the Union, or else the CDC may never have given up the ghost on mask mandates. Even progressive voices have been urging CDC to revise its guidelines and prioritize hospitalizations over cases for months. Almost half the states dropped their COVID restrictions in May 2021, and the rest abandoned much of their policies weeks ago.

This is now CDC’s fifth reversal on masking – first they recommended against masking because they feared shortages in March 2020, then they changed their minds on masks in April 2020. They ended mask requirements for the vaccinated in May 2021, but reversed themselves in July 2021. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) was accused of “stoking division” when he lifted Virginia’s mask mandate barely one month ago. Walensky slammed Democratic governors for dropping mask mandates less than three weeks ago, only to adopt the same position on Friday.

It’s understandable that policies and recommendations shift as new data becomes available, and most especially now that vaccines have been widely available for months. However, it’s just insulting when bureaucrats flip recommendations on a dime and expect Americans to follow along like lemmings. It’s hard to maintain credibility when an organization attacks its opponents as “anti-science” on one day and adopts the “anti-science” position shortly after, without ever apologizing or acknowledging their limitations.

Saturday Night Live aired a sketch this weekend mocking the rapid shifts in blue America. For many progressives it seems they can only now acknowledge that the public health bureaucracy may not have gotten everything right and its okay to question policies that seem arbitrary or illogical. Where should lockdown and mask mandate skeptics go to get their apology?

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© Dominic Moore, 2022