CDC says we’re all essential workers now

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ran a few ads that strayed from their typical messages about community responsibility and public health. In early December, spots in English and Spanish ran on Facebook with someone wearing an apron that’s hard to describe as anything other than Starbucks green. “My work puts me at high risk of exposure to Covid-19”, the worker said. “I got the vaccine because it’s better to be protected than to be sick. Later, in a tweet days after Christmas, the CDC reminded the public that “the average hospital stay linked to Covid-19 can cost thousands of dollars” while the vaccine remains free. It came with a cute cartoon of a person lying in a hospital bed with a price tag affixed to the IV drip, such an accurate picture depicts a constellation of American problems that it has gone viral, at least by the standards of a government agency post.

These public service announcements, which urge a person to get vaccinated more for the sake of their checking account than their bodily well-being, have come alongside the CDC’s baffling rollout of a set of new Covid-19 guidelines which frame the pandemic as an economic responsibility, rather than a public health issue. Within a week, a a series of announcements recently extended the shorter recommended isolation times after exposure of healthcare workers to the general population. In a weird line of thought, a former Baltimore health commissionra told CNN that the new rules would encourage people to get tested because they would be willing to risk missing only five days of sick leave, rather than ten. This does not ring true given, for example, that a person who really needs a job will not be particularly inclined to take five days of unpaid leave. And that is assuming that in the near future it will be easy and inexpensive to get a Covid-19 test.

As omicron cases have risen rapidly, politicians fear the entire country may be crippled again, and they weigh that possibility against early reports that vaccinated populations are less likely to get very sick or get very sick. die (not to mention the unvaccinated; I guess the poisonous calculus is that they deserve it.) But the Biden administration has also come under pressure from companies to classify all work as essential – pressure that has endured since that time. Hobby Lobby and wrestling federations were allowed to remain open during the first blockades. It now appears that the Covid-19 guidelines are being reverse-engineered to conform to what the agency thinks businesses might agree to.

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