Collins slams CDC for 'conflicting, confusing' guidance, says she's lost respect for agency

CDC didn’t consult parents on reopening guideline, union president says

National Parents Union President Keri Rodrigues expresses frustration about why parents unions weren’t asked about school reopening guidelines

Republican Sen. Susan Collins on Tuesday said she “used to” have the “utmost respect” for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, but she doesn’t “anymore,” saying “conflicting, confusing” guidance from the agency is undermining “public confidence.”

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky testified before the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday, amid criticism from Republicans over what measures and restrictions are still necessary to protect the public against the novel coronavirus as more and more Americans become vaccinated.


Collins, R-Maine, on Tuesday grilled Walensky on “conflicting” guidance related to school reopenings, wearing masks outside, and summer camps.

“I used to have the utmost respect for the guidance from the CDC. I always considered the CDC to be the gold standard. I don’t anymore,” Collins said, giving examples where she said she thinks “the conflicting, confusing guidance from your agency has undermined public confidence and contradicts the scientific guidance of many experts.”

“Unnecessary barriers to reopening schools, exaggerating the risk of outdoor transmission and unworkable restrictions on summer camps,” Collins continued. “Why does this matter?

It matters because it undermines public confidence in your recommendations, in the recommendations that do make sense, in the recommendations that Americans should be following.”

Collins was referring to a report in the New York Post earlier this month that revealed the American Federation of Teachers successfully obtained changes in CDC draft guidance on school reopenings.

Walensky addressed the report, saying that the CDC “engages with stakeholders, with consumers who use our guidance before it is finalized to make sure it addresses their needs.”

Walensky said the CDC guidance was updated to include directives for “immunocompromised teachers,” not just immunocompromised students, which was included in the initial draft guidance.

Collins also pointed to CDC guidance on mask wearing, and cited a study that “less than 10% of COVID-19 transmission was occurring outdoors,” as well as guidance related to summer camps.


The CDC released new guidelines for summer camps to follow to safely reopen, saying all day camps and overnight camps should separate campers into small groups and make sure they wear masks. Also, the agency suggested summer camps should be outdoors as much as possible.

Collins said a pediatric immunologist from Columbia University called the CDC recommendations for summer camps “senseless,” and said the editor in chief of the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics called the guidance “unfairly draconian.”

Walensky defended the CDC guidance on camps, saying the agency’s goal is to “get our kids to camp and allow them to stay there.”

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