Leaving Covid safety to personal choice will ‘come back to bite us,’ ex-Obama health official says
A former Obama health policy director on Monday criticized what she sees as a potentially dangerous shift in government messaging on Covid safety protocols.
“My biggest issue with the it’s-your-call kind of theme that’s out there [is] we don’t do this in any other area of illness, health, or disease or burden. I don’t tell a patient with high LDL cholesterol, ‘Hey, you go figure out what your 10-year cardiovascular risk is, and you can decide,'” Dr. Kavita Patel said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“Of course, they are able to decide what their options are after I talk to them about what I think is best,” added Patel, a primary care physician in the Washington, D.C. area.
Patel’s comments come after a report in The Wall Street Journal that characterized a new emphasis from federal and local health officials on personal choice when it comes to receiving booster shots, masking or following other Covid mitigation measures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was not immediately available for comment on Patel’s remarks.
The White House released a new plan to tackle the pandemic in March, highlighting four key areas where the Biden administration hopes to secure funding. White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that “we’re going to have to pay very close attention” to the uptick in omicron BA.2 subvariant cases. Congress did not renew emergency federal aid for some pandemic programs.
Patel said that health officials’ essentially giving Americans autonomy over Covid decisions is bound to cause confusion.
“That just seems like a very poor way for a country that has been told for two years, ‘Here’s what you need to do, here’s how you need to do it,’ and now we do what, tell people to go to covid.gov and cross their fingers and hope that they can navigate the site and get to treatment?” she said.
“I think that this is unfortunately going to come back to bite us, because we’re not necessarily doing the types of things we should be doing,” Patel concluded.