WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a physician with experience running immunization efforts in Louisiana, highlighted the American people’s frustration with the COVID-19 response from public health officials during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing entitled “An Update from Federal Officials on Efforts to Combat COVID-19.” He questioned Drs. Anthony Fauci, Rochelle Walensky, and Peter Marks from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) respectively, on major concerns regarding the COVID-19 response in light of cautious messaging and changing guidance.
“I approach you now kind of as a physician who has done research in vaccines more so than I’m approaching you as a Senator. I’m incredibly frustrated and the American people are frustrated because they hear you are following science, but then they just have a sense that the lag time in between the implementation of that and recommendations is far too long,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The American people have just lost patience with us, with you guys. I just ask you to kind of be aware with this frustration and get a little real-time through updating these things.”
During the exchange, Cassidy pointed to a May 7 letter from Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul highlighting the difficulty with labor unions and negotiating reopenings. When public health officials mix up and muddle messaging on reopening, mask-wearing, and vaccine efficacy against variants, there’s serious harm to the government’s ability to carry out essential jobs that can be done safely in a COVID-vaccine world. The U.S. is unable to reopen these offices because employees are fearful due in large part to the shotty messaging of from public health officials.
“Right now we have federal agencies which we’ve had employees not working for a year because the union says they have to have special workplace precautions for them to return to work. There is consequence to this kind of delay – as the Stat article shows – of the kind of updating of these recommendations,” said Dr. Cassidy.
Dr. Cassidy founded the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic and implemented a private-public partnership to vaccinate 36,000 greater Baton Rouge area children against Hepatitis B at no cost to the schools or parents.