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Friday, July 30, 2021

More on the CDC's Communication Issues ...

As I wrote about the other day, the CDC reversed it's mask guidance for indoors, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, at first just citing increasing risk of the delta variant - period - and there were some overly specific guidelines. 

Today, they provided further explanation -  that studies are showing there are "breakthrough" delta-variant infections with the vaccinated, as well as that vaccinated people are able to carry/transmit the virus, and lastly, that the delta variant is more infectious than the original SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID), making it just as infectious as chicken pox - stating the study results would be published later on Friday (today).

I have a childhood friend who works on another team for the CDC, who has lamented the internal communication within the CDC is terrible.

If  I could advise the higher-ups and directors about how they are coming across to the public - which I won't other than here - I would say the following:

1) Be very clear and keep it simple - hire a professional editor if need be  - remember, you're talking to mostly idiots and/or people with the attention span of gnats,  here in America, who already don't trust you; instead, they trust just the titles of click-bait articles without actually fully reading them, or one-sentence social-media posts with a picture (by people they don't know from Adam) - forget about following provided links to any actual studies. 

(Having said that, you should still include the studies, which you sometimes haven't, at least initially, with your latest guidelines).



2)   Be more specific/explain more about the rationale behind why you are changing the rules and include any new studies to support your decision - on the initial publish date of any new guidelines - not later!



3)   STOP KNEE-JERKING AND JUMPING THE GUN based on early results of preliminary studies,  out of pure excitement with possible new data (the implications of which can't possibly be well understood yet) or  political/corporate pressure, etc. -  and make sure the studies are thoroughly peer-reviewed before you communicate/publish any new guidance to the public - and that takes time!

I know we are all wanting data just as fast as we can, and there's a lot of political pressure and corporate pressure, but studies still need to be peer-reviewed and variables ruled out, and that takes time.  

I think in addition to internal political pressure within the CDC itself, as well as external political pressure and corporate pressure, much of the problem is you're publishing communication too quickly without enough review.  

I get the pressure you are under - but rushing to publish guidelines without enough review, not communicating them simply and clearly, and not explaining the rationale for any changes and/or the science behind the new decisions, are not helping your credibility ;)

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