Fmr Acting CDC Chief: ‘Clash of Messages’ on Covid Response Is a Problem, We Need National Push for People to Do the Right Thing


Former CDC director Dr. Richard Besser said on MSNBC Monday that one of the problems in the U.S. coronavirus pandemic response is the “clash of messages” across the country.

He told Katy Tur that the rise in cases among young people is notable, but added, “Young people don’t stick with young people. They have contact with elderly people, they have contact with essential workers who may be at greater risk of having severe infection. And so there’s a lag.”

Tur noted how some places are currently postponing or rolling back some reopenings and asked, “Is it going to be too late if we are playing catchup with the spread of the virus?”

Besser said states have to base reopenings on “the best public health science” available and warned, “What happens when you go in the other direction is you can’t be as incremental. You’re going to have to do some bigger steps if you really want to nip this in the bud.”

“But we have open borders between states,” Tur said. “There’s free movement between states. And you have places like New York and New Jersey, Connecticut, and some other places that have really tried very hard to decrease the number of cases. We went through really stringent lockdowns for weeks and months on end here. What needs to be done to make sure that these places don’t see a surge in cases from people who might travel from Texas, from Florida, from California, from Arizona, Georgia? Is saying ‘please, voluntarily quarantine, we hope you do, it’s your responsibility’ enough?”

Besser said it isn’t enough:

“I think the big challenge is that we’re seeing a clash of messages. Every single public health leader in the nation is saying we’re in the early days of this pandemic and what we do really matters. When I wear a mask, it’s because I respect your health, and I’m trying to keep you healthy. When I keep six feet away, it’s because I’m concerned about my health, but your health as well. If we don’t have a unity of message and a national move to try and get everyone to do the right thing, this is not going to be successful anywhere. You can’t have a system where in certain areas the right thing’s being done, and in other areas, it’s not. And you know, you see red states and blue states that are being careful and slow. And then you see states that are saying ‘let’s get back to work, let’s get back to our social life, there’s nothing to worry about.’ And that’s a really dangerous situation.”

You can watch above, via MSNBC.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac