CNN health experts cling to COVID restrictions, call for extending masks in schools, separating kids in 'pods'

23September 2021

Despite a decreasing national case average and a wide-reaching vaccine mandate in place, CNN medical contributors and guests are not ready to bid farewell to the overreaching COVID-19 regulations that continue to upend daily life in the U.S. 

On Thursday, two guests on the left-wing network called for extended mask-wearing among children in the classroom, tampering the hopes of optimistic Americans who were just beginning to see a ray of light out of the chaos.

“I think we’re still going to have a lot of cases this winter, just because it’s the wintertime …,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the network. “I think when we’re getting down to about 20,000 cases per day, that’s when you’re going to start lifting some of these mandates … and that’s when I think masks will become something that’s optional …. but we’re a long way from that,” he said. 

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Gottlieb said the U.S. must first navigate “another wave of infection across the country. You’re seeing parts of the country get engulfed right now. This isn’t over,” he reiterated. “Just because the South is coming down and the national average looks like it’s falling, this has been highly regionalized and it’s likely to continue to be so.”

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Asked whether it would still be necessary for children to wear facemasks in their classrooms now that they can get the vaccine, the “Uncontrolled Spread” author suggested asymptomatic students be tested twice a week to “cut down the risk of transmission in schools dramatically.”

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. (Getty Images)

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. (Getty Images)

Gottlieb also encouraged schools to keeps students in “defined social pods” to prevent them from intermingling with those outside their immediate classrooms.

“A lot of people talk about the fact that COVID hasn’t been as deadly in children,” he said, “… but we don’t know the long-term implications of this virus and … what the long term implications of COVID is going to be in a lot of these kids who have been infected.”

‘Nowhere near’ ready

Gottlieb made the comment shortly after CNN medical contributor Dr. Leana Wen said the country was “nowhere near” ready to start lifting mask regulations in schools. 

Dr. Leana Wen, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Dr. Leana Wen, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the same program, Wen said masks serve as a “very powerful layer of protection …” and that until every student is vaccinated and other external measures are in place, the U.S. was “nowhere near” ready to allow children to learn mask-free.

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Wen came under fire in July when she suggested on-air that life needs to be “hard” for Americans who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine and individuals who refuse to get shots should perhaps face weekly testings.

“It needs to be hard for people to remain unvaccinated,” Wen, the former Planned Parenthood president, said at the time. “Right now, it’s kind of the opposite.”

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