The Covid-19 Guidance on CDC’s Website is a Crime Against Humanity

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

When I recently posted on masking, I remarked that I’d like to kick the CDC’s twitching corpse. A little. This post does not cover the topic I had in mind for that happy task (why 3M’s respirator, designed in 2008 for just pandemics as our own, was never adopted), but in the course of writing that post, I encountered CDC’s horrid “About Covid 19” page, which provides a plethora of opportunities for putting the boot in, and better yet is affirmatively lethal to those who take it at face value. So I can have fun and do good. Dulce and utile, as the rhetoricians say.

Readers, if you can, I ask you to read the CDC material that follows with an innocent eye. Imagine that you are a school administrator who has conscientiously gone to the world’s premier public health authority to understand how to protect the school’s students, and you know nothing of Covid but what the CDC tells you. Or imagine yourself a parent, seeking to protect your family, again innocent of all knowledge of Covid. Or just an Average Citizen (AC), again, innocent. How would they read these pages? Put yourself in AC’s shoes.

NC readers know that #CovidIsAirborne. However, the Average Citizen does not, and when they come to CDC they will not find a coherent transmission paradigm, clearly and concisely expressed[1]. Instead, what AC will find is a mishmash, a farrago, or to use the French figure, un bordel of institutionally-, politically-, and class-driven paradigms that in fact compete and contradict; reading this material is like seeing Ptolemy and Copernicus jammed together into the same book. Normally, I would draw my conclusions after presenting my data, but this time I think I’ll present CDC’s implicit rules first, so you can match them up with what you read:

Rule #1: airborne. Never use the word “airborne.”

Rule #2: fomites. Legitimize fomite transmission as a possible form of Covid transmission.

Rule #3: droplets. Legitimize droplet dogma, with droplets as the preferred form of Covid transmission.

Rule #4: aerosols. CDC treats droplets and aerosols as a continuum. (A droplet is a loogie, even if small, as from sneezing. It’s ballistic. It falls to the ground (hence CDC’s focus on “close contact”). Aerosols are like cigarette smoke; they linger in the air for hours or even days. If you think cigarette smoke and loogies are two aspects of the same thing, you are thinking like the CDC. CDC has a lot of circumlocutions for aerosols; among them, “respiratory droplets” and “viral particles.”)

Rule #5: asymptomatic. Never imply that asymptomatic infection is significant. But it is: It’s not only the coughing and hacking people who are dangerous. Covid spreads before symptoms establish themselves, which is one reason it’s outsmarting us (see here, here, and here).

Rule #6: masks. Never imply that masks are anything other than a personal choice. (Remember: Walensky believes, or at least says, that masks are a “scarlet letter.” Elites hate them.)

Rule #7: vaccines. Vaccines rule.

(Rules violations can be found. In an institution as sloppy and indifferent as CDC, this is only to be expected. However, as I shall show, these rules give an account of the material I read through, which surveys the high points of what I would do to protect myself and others,)

This rest of this post will consist mainly of annotated screen shots of CDC web pages, starting from this top-level TOC. (I took the screen shots on my iPad, so your layout may vary.) I have highlighted the sections in the TOC that I will drill down into:

(This TOC makes CDC’s Covid material look more organized than it is. In fact, the entire section is a rat’s nest of interlinked pages, many of which don’t appear in the TOC at all.) Prepare for close reading!

Let’s start with the “About” page:

1) CDC has been “reviewing” this guidance since January 2022. But apparently the review is not complete, or was never complete.

2) Rule #7: vaccines.

3) Rule #6: masks.

Average Citizen AC, reading this, would quite reasonably conclude that no further reading was needed. The page hasn’t been updated, and all you need is vaccines. In particular, no masks. An easy sell to the school board!

How to Protect Yourself and Others“:

1) On Community Levels, I will quote Water Cooler:

NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use … [the] community transmission metric….

The “green map” is still pervades this material.

2) IMNHSO, weekly reports are too infrequent when the virus is doubling.

3) Rule #2: fomites.

4) Rule #5: asymptomatic. Avoiding contact with only the symptomatic is not enough to project you. The obvious conclusion is that CDC should at least encourage universal masking. But by Rule #6: masks.

Still on “How to Protect Yourself and Others“:

1) Rule #4: aerosols. “Virus particles” is a circumlocution for aerosol. AC sure doesn’t think of a loogie as a particle.

2) Rule #4: aerosols. The virus “spreads” more easily indoors because aerosols float in the air and build up (unlike outdoors, where they dissipate).

3) Rule #4: aerosols. “As much as”? Come on. Do these people have CO2 meters?? UPDATE Dang. I missed that the diverse people in the artwork are not diverse with respect to mask-wearing.

Still on “How to Protect Yourself and Others“:

1) Rule #5: asymptomatic. Avoiding contact with only the symptomatic is not enough to protect you. The obvious conclusion is that CDC should at least encourage universal masking. But by Rule #6: masks.

Still on “How to Protect Yourself and Others“:

1) “Community Levels” once more.

2) “Masks or Respirators” (like apples or oranges). AC would, I think, come away from this section thinking that masks and respirators were two entirely different things. Frankly, I once thought “respirators” were like Darth Vader masks, or like gas masks (possibly through a sonic association with “ventilator”). But they’re not different things:

I can’t figure out what motivates this distinction, which plays out awkwardly all through this material. Perhaps simply a mischievous desire to obfuscate. They’re all masks, so just as one says “surgical mask,” why not say “respirator mask”?

3) An earlooped mask on the female figure, which from the printing looks like a cloth mask with ear loops, ffs, with not even a Badger seal, and no masks on the children. Is it really too much to ask of CDC that their graphics reflect the most protective masking practice, rather than the leat?


1) Since this guidance has been under review sice July 12, there’s apparently no reason to read further, and AC is a busy man.

2) This fancy image clicks through to the next screen (“How COVID-19 Spreads”) with no value add. So why is it here?

3) Omnicron and variants are off-point for “Transmission.” So why is this here?

4) The odious “Community Levels” once more.

5) Rule #5: asymptomatic. Since Covid spreads asymptomaticallly, wearing a mask only when you have symptoms places personal convenience over the needs of the community.

6) Putting “Protect Yourself” under “How to Protect Youself” seems odd. And the “Protect Yourself” clicks through to the same link at 2). So why are both here?

How COVID-19 Spreads

1) Rule #3: droplets and Rule #4: aerosols.

2) Rule #2: fomites.

3) Why is this here?

4) FINALLY, buried deeply, we get the admission that Covid spread is asymptomatic (knocking the props from under all that advice about masking only when sick, or staying away coughing and sneezing people, and so on. Again, the policy recommendation should be at least to encourage universal masking, but of course by Rule #6, CDC can’t do that.

5) Again, weekly is not enough when a surge is beginning. Ideal would be daily.

Use and Care of Masks

1) So I guess respirators are masks.

2) Except they’re not.

3) Definitely not.

4) Buried down in the section, we FINALLY get a mention of a layered strategy (although ventilation is, naturally, missing). So why wasn’t this on the about page? Because CDC doesn’t really believe it, by Rule #7: vaccines. (See Note [1] for a layered strategy that’s been thought through.)

5) The horrid community levels metric once more.

6) How, exactly, does the “community” decided? What is the community? A committee of hospital administrators?

7) Rule #6: masks. So, if “people may choose to mask at any time” (thanks), or presumably unmask or not mask at all, how on earth does “the” “community” “decide” anything? If masking is only a personal decision, forever and ever amen, then the community has no say or leverage at all.

Types of Masks and Respirators

1) So I guess masks and respirators are apples and oranges again.

2) Ditto. And is “the wearer” the only concern?

Still on “Types of Masks and Respirators“:

I don’t know who “Key Messages” is aimed at. Influencers, propagandists, administrators? Opinion-havers?

1) CDC tries to have it both ways. Everything up to this point, especially including graphics, has been straight Rule #6: masks. Now, buried deep in the Masks section — why not, for pity’s sake, on the About page, the first page AC sees, along with the 3Cs or a Swiss Cheese model of layered protection? — we get a massive Rule #6 violation. Further, “Any mask is better than no mask.” But again, if that’s true, there’s no reason to reduce public> health to personal responsibility. There is such a thing as society. Now, CDC could try to solve this contradiction by producing some highly effective marketing collateral for masking to, er, “nudge” the non-maskers into masking. I’m not seeing anything like that here. And I’ve heard no proposal to do so.

2) Presumably “the most protective mask” includes respirators.

3) But no!

4) And no!

5) And no!

6) This paragraph is a copy-paste of material at 1). Apparently, nobody’s copy-editing this section. Perhaps that’s why the Rule #6 violation snuck in.

Still on “Types of Masks and Respirators“:

1) Rule #3: droplets and Rule #4: aerosols. They’ve just gotta cram that word “droplet” in. Perhaps all that labor caused them to forget that besides spreading through breathing, aerosols also spread by talking, shouting, and singing.

2) Finally data AC can use. Note also the complete collapse of the mask/respirator distinction, since “N95” (a respirator) is also a “filtering mask.’

3) On “individuals may consider the situation,” I can’t even. I suppose this is another way of saying “personal responsibility” will take care of public health. Also, the paragraph should end with a semicolon to introduce the bulleted list.

4) Summarizing, masks are for proles: Bus drivers and grocery store workers, or people who take public transportation.

Understanding Risk:”

1) I love the assumption that everybody has a healthcare provider. And making a “Covid plan” is homework; the PMC love them their homework. Finally, this section reads as if the Rule #6 violations in “Types of Masks and Respirators” had never been. CDC has no notion that “community” or even (dread word) collective action could reduce the risk for those who have risk factors.

2) Naturally, the CDC asseses risk for age, race, and ethnicity. But not for class. So the “bus drivers” and “grovery workers'” are S.O.L.


From the Miami Herald, “Now that the CDC has abandoned us, it’s up to medical professionals to keep us safe from COVID“:

With a one-two punch, the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have tossed tens of millions of Americans at high risk of death and disability from COVID-19 into a sea of contagion without any clear guidance for infection prevention and control. After President Biden’s thoughtless remark that “the pandemic is over,” the CDC announced days later a quiet undermining of COVID-19 protections in hospitals and nursing homes: the end of universal masking recommendations for healthcare settings. Ordinary Americans who cannot afford to be ill — and that is truly tens of millions of us — now have to appeal directly to America’s working medical professionals: Please make your medical offices safe for us to enter by using N95 masks and top-rated HEPA air filtration. Too many of us are at risk to become severely ill, develop chronic illness or die if we catch COVID-19, even if we are newly boosted.

I would use stronger words than “thoughtless” and “quiet undermining”. When I say “crimes against humanity,” I’m really not kidding. From the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

The term also has a broader use in condemning other acts that, in a phrase often used, “shock the conscience of mankind.” World poverty, human-made environmental disasters, and terrorist attacks have thus been described as crimes against humanity. The broader use of the term may be intended only to register the highest possible level of moral outrage, or the intention may be to suggest that such offenses be recognized, formally, as legal offenses.

The Center for Disease’s Covid documentation entraps the innocent into making decisions that will be lethal for them and for others. That’s a crime that shocks the conscience. An innocent would read the About page, and decide that all that’s required is vaccination. But since the vaccines we have don’t prevent transmission, that decision would condemn others to neurological and vascular damage, not to mention Long Covid. An innocent, reading the CDC’s obfuscations on masks vs. respirators, never having clicked enough levels deep to find out that the N95 is a mask, might well buy a package of less protective masks, again infecting themselves and others. An innocent, who missed CDC’s buried admission that Covid transmits asymptomatically, might well mask up only in the presence of the sick (coughing, sneezing), again infecting themselves or others. An innocent, who believed CDC’s “Community Levels” metric, not understanding that CDC designed it to protect hospitals, not dull normals, would take protective measures and adopt a layered strategy days or weeks too late, infecting themselves or others. An innocent bus driver or grocery worker might look to CDC to alleviate their plight, to provide some data on issues particular to their work situation. But such hopes would be foolish, wouldn’t they?

But to me, CDC’s worst crime is not to place a coherent transmission paradigm right on their About page. Then people could figure out what measures to take. Instead, we get a grotesque gallimaufry of fomites, droplets, and various euphemisms for aerosols. This matters, because while CDC prattles on about “personal responsibility,” they deny innocents the very concepts they need to take responsibility. We still have people wiping down shopping cart handles while buying groceries unmasked, and innocents will get infected and some will die because of that. Those people are trying to do the right thing. But because of CDC, they’re doing the wrong thing. We still have people carefully following cough etiquette, worrying about loogies when they should be worrying about aerosols, and innocents will get infected and some will die because of that. Those people, too, are trying to do the right thing. But because of CDC, they’re doing the wrong thing. We have a slow-moving massacre of the innocents on our hands, and I wish it were possible to make CDC pay for its crimes.


[1] Some clear and precised guidance. From Japan, the 3Cs policy:

And better yet, USC’s version of the Swiss Cheese model”

I like especially that USC has masks on the “personal responsibility” side, and mask enforcements on the “USC Actions” (community) side. This is what CDC is unwilling to do.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ChiGal

    bravo and a thousand thanks for your continuing public service on this.

    Death Panel has been killing it lately as well with their recent episodes on social murder and the pandemic is over. In the latter case they call out Biden’s tautological gesture toward the unmasked crowd following HIS guidance not to mask as evidence for his declaration.

  2. Tom Stone

    The CDC is doing its Job quite well if you look at things from the right perspective…
    “Go Die”.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      But it’s not done like with a Nazi Guard at one of the camps, pointing this way or that way for the people getting off the train, one way to Happyville, the other way to Pain City (the gas).

      It’s a more complex system, responsibility is more diffuse, deniability is more plausible, etc.

      1. JBird4049

        Actually, choosing who lived or died was often done by doctors. Doctors who seem to have had much the same ethics as many people in today’s Professional Managerial Class.

  3. Jason Boxman

    Maybe like the Wired article someone posted a few days ago, the CDC webmaster is “over employed” and “quiet quit” at CDC?

    Otherwise it’s hard to come up with an innocuous explanation. I’ve seen so many mind blowing things of late, I guess this is par for that course.

    1. JBird4049

      The people responsible for the site already have it set up. It would take one or two people a day to update the site. Maybe.

      Considering that it is a very public, important, and I assume well visited site, I find it, if not sinister, extremely incompetent not to have it updated at least monthly with accurate and complete information.

      I guess it could be like a Wikipedia page where many people with very different agendas could be edited the site; if so, why hasn’t some superior designated a person to regularly maintain it?

  4. jhallc

    Yesterday during the Packers/Patriots game, the NFL showed a promo of Packer players visiting a children’s oncology ward. The players only wore surgical masks and at least two players wore them as chin diapers. I have no idea if any pre-testing was done but, if my child was in the room I would be furious. The fact that the hospital administrative/safety procedures allow for surgical masks to be worn around cancer patients is just unbelievable.

    1. petal

      The hospital I am based at is also only requiring surgical masks-including in the cancer center. You get handed one at the front door. It’s nothing but theatre.

  5. drumlin woodchuckles

    Well, its ” official “. The CDC’s real mission is to cause as much time-delayed slow-rolling-over-time mass death as it can get away with causing short of exposed for it in public by the MSM and the Politicrats.

    Darwin filtration jackpot design engineering.

    Not just a figure of speech.

    Living long uninfected is the best revenge. And helping as many other people live as long as possible also uninfected is even bester revenger than that.

    1. Randall Flagg

      >The CDC’s real mission is to cause as much time-delayed slow-rolling-over-time mass death as it can get away with causing short of exposed for it in public by the MSM and the Politicrats.

      I’ve wondered about that too at times. Possibly they’re trying to solve many problems at once.
      Global warming, reduce the number of humans on the Planet, reducing carbon emissions.
      Reduce the demands on the Social Security system by having more elderly die sooner. All wrapped up in a Pandemic with a bow on top.
      The infamous win/win… unless you’re one of those that have been kicked to Society”s curb.

      1. John Zelnicker

        Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum has said quite explicitly that the world population needs to be reduced.

        The CDC is taking him at his word.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The fact is that it does. The problem is how?

          I would like to see a very gentle float downward based on total womens’ rights and reproductive self-mastery, restricted tax support/subsidy for having children, etc.

          I would NOT like to see a continuation of the current Jackpot Design Engineering policy of killing 7 billion people over the next 100 years while trying to make it look like an accident. That’s what Klaus Schwab and all the sweaty strivers and greasy climbers at the WEF want. Its also what the Silent Inner Power Masters who don’t even have to attend WEF meetings to feel powerful and good about themselves also want.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I don’t “wonder”. I firmly and totally believe it.

        The buildings and labs and other facilities that CDC occupies remain valuable. A very thoroughly stalinist purge leaving not one evil germ spreader left standing would decontaminate the buildings. Perhaps an elaborate excorcism ceremony as well.

        Then restaff the agency with non mass-murderers. Have people “like” IM Doc and others in the medical and science community who have been favorably reviewed here do the extreme vetting needed to make sure that not one anti-public germ-stealth-warfare expert is allowed back into the decontaminated and reconstituted agency.

  6. Randy

    I raise chickens for meat and I am butchering in about 3 weeks. Today I noticed I have a sick chicken. It is lethargic and wants to sit and rest rather than stand up. Not good. If a chicken lays down the other roosters take that as an invitation for sex and they don’t care about the sex of the chicken laying down. If it will lay still long enough they will have sex with it.

    The bird flu scare prompted me to DDG bird flu for symptoms that might show up in my flock. The first link was from the……………………CDC. As you will guess the CDC web page was totally useless. Rather than wasting an hour digging around the CDC site for information that I might never find I went back and found some better links.

    My idea. Go to the CDC after the workday starts. Make damn sure Wallensky is in there. Barricade the doors from the outside and burn the place to the ground making sure nobody escapes. I have never seen a more useless institution. Rotten to the core.

      1. Randy

        I’m hoping it is just a random sick chicken that is not contagious. If my chicken has bird flu it will all be over for for my entire flock in a matter of a week or so.

        If they all die I will go dig a hole with my backhoe and bury them.

        On the bright side I might not have to butcher chickens this year. On the dark side I won’t be eating chicken for a while, I won’t eat store chicken. I like chicken.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          aye. radical surveillance and a quarantine space.
          the latter i’ve yet to do.
          with me…way out here…it’s only really bugs brought in by wild birds that i worry about.
          if i buy chicks, i quarantine them(set up for that, so far, with a dedicated Chick House, as well as a teenager House).
          working up to brooding my own chicks from eggs, but we aint there just yet.
          folks with more visitors than me hafta take extra precautions, of course…and if you keep pigs, too…keep them away from the fowl.
          pigs are excellent bioreactors for zoonotic disease emergence.(see: influenza origins in rural china every year=ducks and pigs and humans in close proximity))
          (pigs are on the agenda, eventually(i like bacon)…but their fort knox pen is to be well away from everybody else.)

          1. Olivier

            Since you or a family member will tend to both the pigs and the fowl, aren’t you going to be the mixer and vector?

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              pigs dont need close messing with every day like birds.
              one can avoid cross contamination by instituting simple protocols.
              and too…the pigs and chickens, etc will be well separated.

              main thing delaying the pig thing(they’re free, right back there on the mountain, and ranchers would be thrilled if i ran off with a shoat or 3)…is that we dont generate enough kitchen waste and such to feed them.
              so i’d hafta buy pig feed…or make a deal with a local greasy spoon,lol…and my experience tells me that the kitchen labor force hereabouts can’t generally be bothered to divert edible trash into the buckets i provide.
              so pigs are back burner…a someday addition.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Give your sick chicken[s] a few days off with paid vacation. It will be a much better chicken after that! Worry no more. … no more … no more … .

    2. Beth

      The last I heard, Walensky was still working remotely from Massachusetts. I would like to see that confirmed. I would also like to be part of an ACTUP-type action with a few hundred others in front of her home. Where is the disruptive organising opposing mass death? Many more are dying than during the height of the AIDS crisis and yet all we have are some outraged tweets

    1. Lee

      Being doctors they could all be on Evusheld, which for the general population might as well be called Evushelf, as supplies are largely unused and sitting on shelves. It is a passive “vaccination”, introducing Covid antibodies directly into one’s system with no immune response required and provides protection for about six months.

      “Although Evusheld is FDA-approved for emergency use in the U.S, it is estimated that around 80% of the available doses sit unused in warehouses and on pharmacy and hospital shelves due to confusion among patients and health care providers.[29][30][31]” (Wikipedia)

      1. Beth

        Doctors are so poorly informed on Covid that most do not know Evusheld is available – even oncologists are not offering it to severely immunosuppressed cancer patients undergoing treatment. But this doesn’t really matter much because both BA.2.75 and BQ.1.1 are completely resistant to both Bebtelovimab and Evusheld. Jury’s out on Paxlovid. Winter will be fun.

  7. Lee

    We are in a sea of Covid with most transmissions being passed by the asymptomatically infected. (Medpage)

    “A cough or sneeze in the checkout line at the grocery store may elicit fear of COVID-19, but that maskless person quietly sitting next to you on the subway could pose just as much of a threat, public health experts say.”

    Treatment for those who become symptomatically ill is the next and last line of defense against serious disease and death.

    We could reduce the current number of Covid deaths from ~500 per day, to 50 to 60 per day by providing the timely administration of Paxlovid and other available treatments, according to Dr. Daniel Griffin. See this week’s Clinical Update, minute 29. It would seem that many health care providers simply don’t know the proper protocols for treating Covid-19. Dr. Daniel Griffin’s Clinical treatment summary for 09/29/2022.

      1. flora

        Gasp! Dare you suggest that, you know, health protection could be had for a few cents a day instead of for several or many many dollars a day , is that , what’s the term, “outrageous disifno”, or some such. (I’m not clear on terminologies. Is there a Babble for that?)

  8. shinola

    I went to my local (chain) pharmacy today for an updated covid booster plus regular flu shot. I was the only person wearing a mask. Most of the people congregated in the designated waiting area appeared to be in the “senior” category (i.e. most at risk for severe complications). Not a mask in sight.

    Did I feel self-conscious? Yes…
    Did I take off the mask? No!
    Better to be safe than sorry…

    1. flora

      I respect everyone’s decision about whether or not to wear a mask and etc. I respect every adult’s competence to decide what is best for their health. Now that it’s October I see many elderly adults wearing masks, and I understand we’re now in flu season in the northern hemisphere and other respiratory virus season stuff now, and I respect their decision to wear a mask. I only wish other adults respected my competence to decide to either wear or not wear a mask.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        The problem with that reasoning is, as this site has tried to teach us over and over again, that a choice not to wear a mask is a choice to risk infecting other people. Those oldsters wearing masks would be safer if you and everyone else made your “personal decision” to wear a mask in public, enclosed spaces.

        People who don’t wear masks in public, indoor spaces are:

        1) bamboozled by the government propaganda that Lambert is exposing here: or

        2) don’t give a damn about the safety of other people.

        Maybe the 2s are the same people who think stop lights are optional.

      2. Basil Pesto

        I respect every adult’s competence to decide what is best for their health.

        Except as Lambert has shown here, people generally are fairly ignorant about these issues, either because they rely on a) the CDC, which is dangerously uninformative, or b) moronic demagogues (Vinay Prasad, the GBDers etc), who they possibly turn to when their trust in institutions like the CDC is shredded. So many (most) adults are making many of these decisions from false premises, and we have to wait for them to learn the hard way how stupid this all is. To take Lambert’s example, do we really think unmasked people who still sanitise their shopping trolley wouldn’t unmask if they didn’t have a proper understanding of transmission, and if they understood what was at stake? Of course (setting aside those who can’t for whatever medical reason), beyond ignorance, some people just don’t want to wear a mask/respirator, thinking this proves some kind of great cosmic political point beyond their being an asshole, and have chosen to make it their hill to die on.

        I only wish other adults respected my competence to decide to either wear or not wear a mask.

        The problem with this is that one’s decision not to wear a mask in shared indoor spaces can have an adverse impact (including, ultimately, death) on any of the other people in the space, given the nature of the pathogen, its contagiousness, and its asymptomatic transmission. One-way masking is far less efficient at protecting any given individual in a space than communitarian masking, which a) and b) above have worked hard to absolutely shred as a concept in lieu of either vaccines or an irrelevant concept of herd immunity that does not apply to this virus. They’ve also been entirely successful, so one no longer need fear reprisals for *not* wearing masks, even, amazingly, in healthcare settings. What a mess.

  9. KLG

    Monthly appointment with my primary ENT this afternoon. Saw one other mask in the waiting room of a very busy practice. Nothing to see here, move along. The pandemic is so over.

  10. david anthony

    I’ve seen aerosol experts who recommend respirators also just call them respirators, which I have found very confusing. Really thought they were talking about the Bain type mask.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Bain type mask.

      I had to look it up. But no, I believe this is the sort of respirator they mean:

      Note: Not to be picky, but “Bain” is the consulting firm, Bane is the supervillain. But the confusion is entirely understandable!

  11. ChrisRUEcon

    Thanks as always. Not a word wasted. I see it with my own eyes everyday – people walking into some crowded establishment with no mask on, but sanitizing their hands thereafter; the horrible, horrible HHS ads on YouTube showing all manner of fallacy-induced behavior that people should feel comfortable doing unmasked solely because they’re “vaxxed”: square-dancing indoors, visiting that elderly relative, going to the concert etc etc. Very few understand or believe in asymptomatic transmission. Even fewer understand that the virus is a systemic/vascular affliction. And all of it, carefully manufactured and aided by a purposeful reduction in the amount of data collected and disseminated to the public. It’s absolutely awful, but I will soldier on and I appreciate everything NC does every day.

  12. BeliTsari

    Misinformation is ANYTHING contradicting GBD/CDC or Brownstone Institute releases for “our” party to rip & read, to infect us as quickly as “asymptomatic” vectors exposed at school, maskless mouthbreaters or HCW, mass transit, workplace re-re-reinfections cascade PASC circulatory & organ damage indenture us into gig-serfdom as we’re ALL forced back into a cesspool of contaigen & unpaid ER, doc-in-a-box, out-of-network or pharmaceutical bills?

    1. BeliTsari

      If these specimens shot out of their vials, slithered across the counter, suppurated onto the filthy floor, amalgamating into a pustulating pile of putrifying protoplasm, extruding arms, legs & extruding a drooling, sneering head… CDC would require it to UNMASK so we could see it smile at us?

    2. SocalJimObjects

      From the Wikipedia page on Gain on Function research:

      “Some forms of gain-of-function research (specifically work which involves certain select agent pathogens) carry inherent biosafety and biosecurity risks, and are thus also referred to as dual use research of concern (DURC).”

      So what are some examples of select agent pathogens? From, do I see SARS-CoV listed? Yes I do.

      I am not saying this virus came out of a lab, but we are dealing with nasty stuff here.

  13. QR

    Thank you for that takedown.

    Re: “aerosols,” might:

    -use of the term trigger protective requirements/other legal obligations for entities such as employers?
    -use of the term lead to more successful search results when people try to look up further scientific information and research?

    Either result is anathema to the power players.

  14. Acacia

    Excellent, Lambert, thanks!

    Minor nits: “January 2024. 2022” should be “January 2022”, I think, and the link to the Miami Herald editorial is missing an “h” in the URL.

    1. Acacia

      Adding: is it just the CDC’s website (per the title of this article), or could we say that CDC policy is in fact a crime against humanity?

  15. playon

    It’s a clusterf**k. I’m pretty careful but I got it a second time and am still recovering. Maybe 1 out of 50 people wear a mask around here, and people are talking about “a cold that’s going around”. At this point I just want to live like a hermit and survive…

    1. Rip Van Winkle

      My employer is going with voluntary WFH indefinitely. No trains, subways, offices, bodegas, coffee shops, restaurants or gin mills involved.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i had a “cold” during the first week of school(youngest is a Junior).
      loaded up on vitamins, etc..and it was gone before i had the dental surgery.
      but i went to a hospital in north austin last friday to retrieve my mother in law(and by request from the Familia, to get the skinny on what, exactly is going on, since i speak Doctor, and translate it well into ordinary language)
      so yesterday, after3 days of allergies from hell(austin always does this), they switched into an obvious “cold”…so again with the vitamins, etc.
      that hospital happened to be the very same that my wife was last in, where we learned that hospice was the only thing left to do…so add a “return to scene of crime” emotional thing to it all.
      they, to their credit, still have a rather vigorously enforced universal mask policy…but not near enough hand san dispensers on walls…like the apparently only unlocked bathroom…no hand san outside it…but one 100′ away, and stuck in an alcove.
      i likely touched my face at some point, as i was not unmasked at any time, and didn’t get close to anyone….until we were in the car, of course.
      no covid tests out here that i’m aware of…even if they were accurate(lol).
      but i can taste and smell…but for the snot, at least.
      and it doesn’t feel like the time i’m certain i had actual covid(also negative tests)…like the worst sinus infection ever, with mild fever and at least a little loss of taste and smell(that went away quickly).
      hope it’s “just a cold”.
      and like is said so often on NC, this IS the stupidest timeline.
      I suppose that a “limited nuclear exchange” might mitigate some of this, at least in certain downwind areas…has anyone studied the effects of fallout on aerosol virus “particles”?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > has anyone studied the effects of fallout on aerosol virus “particles”?

        What a happy thought. It seems reasonable to believe that such studies have been done. A quick search yields this:

        Numerous studies in animals have demonstrated that ionizing radiation produces significant impairment of the immune system. Whole-body x irradiation with 400 rads in albino rabbits completely eliminates antibody response to an antigen presented 48 hours after exposure. Mice exposed to 450 rads of total body x irradiation exhibit suppressed intracellular digestion of foreign erythrocytes. Sublethal x irradiation in mice results in an increased incidence of neoplastic diseases.

        There is much clinical evidence of immunosuppression by x irradiation in humans. Patients receiving extensive radiotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease experience an increased incidence of viral infections (herpes zoster and varicella-zoster virus)….


        Chazov and Vartanyan have estimated that at least one-third of the population surviving a nuclear war would suffer from severe emotional and behavioral disturbances. Stress, depression, and bereavement have all been reported to alter the immune system and increase the risk of infection.

        Studies in animals under stress have shown an increased susceptibility to infection by coxsackie B, polio, herpes, and vesicular stomatitis viruses. Rats given a graded series of stressors manifest progressive suppression of lymphocyte function.

        So go long* on manufacturers of the following: Potassium iodide (ThyroShield, Iosat), Prussian blue (Radiogardase), and Diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA).

        NOTE * Kidding, totally!

  16. Ellery O'Farrell

    Here in NYC, on the subway A line at least I still see roughly 50% masking, even though it’s voluntary. We distrust authority…

    Putting that in perspective, when it was mandated compliance was by my informal calculations something like 90%

    1. BeliTsari

      I’d been answering a tweet, questioning my assessment, that at ~30% (maybe 15% REAL masks, at the W72nd Walgreens, while waiting for my partner’s booster). It was a VERY crowded Saturday afternoon on Broadway, too. Of course only one SICK employee was in a procedure mask, which she constantly removed, to scream at us? I was leaning between Trader Joe’s scaffolding & the brick wall, as a 200lb guy on a 90lb electric cargo bike plowed into us. Everybody just kept walking, instagramming their Mindfulness coach?

  17. Trustee

    To quote Chris Christie “The science changed. It was not the medical science that changed. It was the political science.”

  18. in_still_water

    Friend (masked and took this pandemic seriously) got it from her child who got it from school. Allergic reaction to paxlovid = ER. Lungs are not pretty. Got long Covid.

  19. tegnost

    Great post, thanks, read it on the phone during the day.
    Led me to thinking masking is bad for facial recognition, robitussin sales (et al,) and smile power.
    Plus sanitizing products, wipes and the like…
    Still masking, myself…

    1. Eclair

      Thank you, tegnost. ” ….. masking is bad for facial recognition …”
      I have thought the same. Having hung around, during Occupy and afterwards in the Dakotas, with people who went masked to prevent such facial recognition by ‘the authorities, I can understand the reluctance of any governmental institution to actually encourage routine facial masking. Why invest in all those surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology if everyone’s face is covered from chin to eyes. Plus dark glasses and hats.

    1. Keith Newman

      @mariagostrey, 7:09am
      Indeed! I had never seen the word before. I also enjoy Yves’ use of “faffing around”.

  20. Dick Swenson

    I am adding this reference, though it may have already been noted. This is a lengthy post and I haven’t finished reading it all.

    The book by Michael Lewis, The Premonition (2019) is just one more in Lewis’s catalog of well written, informative books. It tells two stories – (1) how in the early 2000s a group formed by the Bush White House developed the “social distance method” of dealing with pandemics and the CDC reception to the idea, and (2) how a researcher at UCSF developed a rapid test to identify viruss early in the Obama White House that seemed to identify the Covid virus late in the 2000s and the CDC response.

    The CDC seem to come out well in this book.

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