Is Rochelle Walensky Kneecapping The Narrative?
Whether By Accident Or Design, The Truth May Be About To Prevail
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has developed a positive talent for throwing out seemingly offhand statements that ultimately have significant ramifications.
Two weeks ago she drove a rhetorical stake through the credibility of PCR testing for COVID-19 by acknowledging the tests detected virus “fragments” (which is true), leading to large numbers of false positive results.
Yesterday, she went on Good Morning America and calmly conceded the significance of comorbidities in assessing the CDC death tally for COVID-19.
ABC "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" HOST: I want to ask you about the encouraging headlines we're talking about this morning, a new studying talking about just how well vaccines are working to prevent severe illness. Given that, is it time to rethink how we're living with this virus if it is potentially here to stay?
CDC DIRECTOR ROCHELLE WALENSKY: The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75%, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities. So really these are people who were unwell to begin with.
Her full response is found here:
On Sunday she appeared on Fox News to acknowledge that as much as 40% of COVID-19 patients in hospital are there “with" COVID-19 and not “from" COVID-19.
BAIER: Speaking of statistics, it seems to make a big difference if a person in the hospital is in the hospital for COVID-19 or with COVID-19. It's been almost a year since you've been running the agency. Do we have that split on numbers?
WALENSKY: You know, what I will say it differs by each variant. First of all, we're doing screening in many hospitals, of everybody who’s walking in the door.
What we are seeing with the Omicron variant is that it tends to be milder person by person, but given how large the numbers are that we’re seeing more and more cases come into the hospital.
In some hospitals that we've talked to, up to 40 percent of the patients who are coming in with COVID-19 are coming in not because they’re sick with COVID, but because they’re coming in with something else and have had to -- COVID or the omicron variant detected.
BAIER: Right. But I guess you know how many of the 836,000 deaths in the U.S. linked to COVID are from COVID or how many are with COVID but they had other comorbidities, do you have that breakdown?
WALENSKY: Yes, of course. With omicron, we are following that very carefully. Our death registry, of course, takes a few weeks to -- it takes a few weeks to collect and, of course, omicron has just been with us for a few weeks. But those data will be forthcoming.
Her full interview on Fox is available here.
In that same interview she fact-checked (i.e., corrected) Justice Sotomayor's astoundingly false claim that 100,000 children were hospitalized with COVID-19—a number so wrong even CNN could not defend it (the actual number of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations is under 3,500).
If Rochelle Walensky is meant to support the official narrative, she is doing a terrible job.
Rochelle Walensky Has Always Let The Truth Slip Out
On one level, her habit of accidentally revealing the truth is nothing new. The CDC Director was, readers may recall, the one who admitted in August that the vaccines were not stopping community spread of COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people who get a COVID-19 "breakthrough" infection can spread the virus to others even if they are not symptomatic, Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky told CNN on Thursday.
She warned that an autumn/winter surge in the COVID "Delta" variant could again see hundreds of thousands of cases per day.
"Our vaccines are working exceptionally well," she said. "They continue to work well with 'Delta' with regard to severe illness and death, but what they can't do anymore is prevent transmission."
What went largely unnoticed at the time was the aside she threw in right after that admission (emphasis mine):
"So, if you are going home to somebody who has not been vaccinated to somebody who can't get vaccinated, somebody who is immunosuppressed or a little frail, somebody with comorbidities, I would suggest you wear a mask in public indoor settings."
The data point that is getting renewed attention today is one that Ms Walensky has actually conceded before—COVID-19 mainly impacts people already in poor health.
In this regard, her recent truth bombs are not that unusual.
Walking Back The Narrative
It is nevertheless remarkable that there have been so many such admissions and revelations in recent weeks. Taken as a whole, one has to wonder if Rochelle Walensky is not trying to walk back the more extreme talking points of the pandemic panic narrative. Perhaps she is simply unable to spin the data any further, given the way Omicron has shredded the narrative.
Either way, there is definite shift in her rhetoric. Gone is even a hint of last summer's “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” To her credit she has never indulged in the “winter of death" language used by the rest of the Biden Administration last month to demonize those who declined the vaccines.
It is, of course, too soon to say with certainty, but what we may be witnessing is the final collapse of the pandemic panic narrative. As Omicron has steadily demolished the talking points used to promote COVID-19 fear and paranoia, the only thing left in the CDC Director's rhetorical quiver is the truth.
Walensky Is Someone To Watch
Ironically, Rochelle Walensky's pivot is giving her a credibility boost relative to the Administration's other main spokesperson, Anthony Fauci. Whether by accident or design, Walensky's truth-telling asides seem to be becoming a chronicle of the narrative's collapse.
At a minimum, Rochelle Walensky seems likely to undercut the narrative rather than support it. Kneecapping the narrative has become her rhetorical signature.
With any luck, the truth very well may be about to prevail.