Sen. Ron Johnson, ranking member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday demanding that she provide answers about a study the CDC has repeatedly cited to justify keeping kids masked at school. It turns out the study is riddled with errors, according to The Atlantic’s reporting.
In September of 2021, the CDC published the study on the “Association between K-12 School Mask Policies and School-Associated COVD-19 Outbreak,” which was conducted in two Arizona counties during July and August last year. And over the following two months, Walensky cited the study as justification for forcing schoolchildren to wear masks.
“On September 26, 2021, during an interview on CBS Face the Nation, you stated, ‘[CDC] also published a study out of Arizona that demonstrated that places that had no masks in place were three and half times more likely to have outbreaks than places that did have masks in place,’” Johnson wrote, compiling these public appearances by Walensky into his letter.
The senator noted Walensky saying the same thing at a White House press briefing two days later, writing a similar statement on her official Twitter account, and citing the study again at an October press briefing as evidence for masking kids.
Unfortunately for Walensky and her agency, however, The Atlantic raised a number of issues with the study in a December article. The potential flaws included the failure of the study to account for vaccination status, the comparison of schools open as many as six weeks without mask mandates with schools open as little as three weeks with mask mandates, and failure to determine whether high positivity rates were the result of transmission within the school.
Furthermore, county guidelines might have resulted in schoolchildren under mask mandates not being tested for Covid as frequently as students without mask mandates, meaning that deciding whom to test based on whether they wore masks could have led to “detection bias.”
After The Atlantic published its article exposing the flaws, the study’s authors wrote a letter to rebut it — a letter that the CDC said it stood by. The CDC couldn’t keep its story straight, however, regarding when it received a copy of the rebuttal. And now it can’t keep its story straight on whether it stands by the study anyway. According to a Reason article, it appears the CDC is acknowledging problems with the study behind closed doors.
“The fact that you and the CDC appear to be willing to acknowledge potential flaws and limitations of this and other studies in nonpublic forums raises serious questions about CDC’s commitment to transparency,” Johnson wrote.
In an effort to force the much-needed transparency, Johnson is demanding that the bureaucrats turn over relevant documentation by March 15, including internal communications related to the study, Walensky’s public comments, the rebuttal letter and when the CDC received it, The Atlantic article, Walensky’s acknowledgment of the study’s potential flaws, as well as details about how the CDC came to publish the study in the first place.
“CDC’s COVID-19 guidance has had and continues to have a direct impact on the lives of Americans as they attempt to navigate this pandemic,” Johnson wrote. “The lack of transparency from the CDC on pandemic policy throughout the past two years has been appalling.”
As politicians floundering in the polls — including the room full of lawmakers on Capitol Hill who shed their face coverings just in time for the State of the Union — begin to drop their mask mandates for voters ahead of the midterms, too many kids in school are still muzzled. They’re paying the price for adults’ political Covid theater and suffering under the lack of transparency from federal bureaucrats like Walensky.
“Unfortunately, our national response to the pandemic has been a miserable failure. Over 900,000 lives lost, businesses destroyed, lives disrupted, and our children harmed. Now the Biden administration and our federal health agencies want Americans to ignore their divisive policy failures and simply move on,” Johnson told The Federalist. He continued:
“Americans deserve transparency in government and as much information as possible to make their own health care decisions. Instead, the administration and agencies have not been honest and arrogantly refused to be transparent and accountable. It is far past time for the administration and the rest of the COVID Cartel to stop dividing America and abusing authority. They need to start respecting the public’s right to know and stop infringing on our God-given freedom and personal health autonomy.”
That’s why Johnson’s letter is a step in the right direction — and why we need even more representatives in Washington demanding lots more accountability from the Covid cabal that’s held vulnerable Americans hostage for two full years.