Lockdown critics have slammed CNN over a segment featuring infectious disease expert Paul Offit, who suggested the “lesson” from the Covid-19 pandemic is that people should social distance and wear masks every winter from now on.
“If we mask and social distance every winter, we will see a dramatic reduction in flu, which usually causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths,” Offit, who is also a co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, told CNN in the Wednesday segment.
Long-term masking and social distancing, Offit suggested, could very well be the “lesson” we take away from restrictions put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.
CNN pundit suggest the lesson from COVID might be that we should mask up and social distance ourselves every winter so fewer people get the flu: pic.twitter.com/hRGpfIOvZx
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) March 3, 2021
With millions of Americans confined mostly to their homes for months, and as events and mass gatherings have either been shut down entirely or restricted, flu rates have dramatically fallen. Many doctors are now pointing to the lowered human contact during winter months and other Covid-19 precautions as the reason for the dramatic downward shift.
The clip had more conservative pundits pulling their hair out, immediately pushing back and saying they would take part in no such future restrictions willingly.
“The idea that masking is the precaution that caused low flu rates this winter as opposed to the dramatic reduction of all in-person human contact, particularly in crowded environments, is not empirical,” Tablet Magazine associate editor Noah Blum shot back at Offit.
Others were much more blunt in their dismissal of the suggestion.
“You do you, CNN pundit. The rest of us will be living our lives like normal [people],” journalist Megyn Kelly tweeted.
I don’t know why we aren’t talking about the enormous social, behavioral and health downsides to doing this, as if isolation is just some fun game we can get to play every winter if we want. https://t.co/z2CvGWqYoX
— Drew Holden (@DrewHolden360) March 3, 2021
Others fully agreed with Offit’s argument and took to promoting the fact that they will continue masking and social distancing beyond the current pandemic.
I expect to wear a mask every winter for the rest of my life. The flu is nowhere near as bad as COVID-19, but it still kills thousands of Americans every year, and wearing masks dramatically reduces the spread. It’s a tiny individual sacrifice for such major benefits to society.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) March 3, 2021
I mean, duh? That’s always been the case, it just took a pandemic for people to consider it more seriously. https://t.co/7Q2ybOZVw1
— Graveyard Dog 💀💀💀 (@NitsuaSetab) March 3, 2021
CNN anchor Jake Tapper also came to Offit’s defense in the midst of the pushback, taking issue with the fact that he was being dismissed simply as a “pundit” to downplay the merit of his views.
“That ‘CNN pundit’ is Dr. Paul Offit, a widely-respected pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases, vaccines, immunology, and virology who just happens to be co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine,” Tapper tweeted. “If you disagree, fine, but let’s frame these discussions honestly.”
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