Rantz: Wash. Department of Health keeps promoting outdated COVID-19 advice

Sep 4, 2023, 7:16 PM | Updated: Sep 5, 2023, 8:47 am

Image:A light rail train in Seattle advertises free rides to COVID-19 vaccine appointments on March...

A light rail train in Seattle advertises free rides to COVID-19 vaccine appointments on March 10, 2022. (Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)

(Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is promoting outdated COVID-19 advice. Indeed, the agency’s guidance hasn’t moved much despite learning so much more about COVID-19. It’s yet another example of how public health officials eschew science and data for politically-motivated COVID-19 fearmongering.

COVID-19 cases are starting to rise, as expected. But variants of the virus continue to weaken, causing exceptionally mild symptoms for the vast majority of people. Yet, there has been talk of returning to COVID-19 mitigation policies, including mask-wearing. Others, like DOH officials, are pushing Washingtonians to get yet another vaccine shot.

But there are problems with the advice: masks do not stop the spread of COVID-19 and the most recent vaccine is not suitable for the current strain of the virus.

The outdated Washington DOH COVID-19 advice

In a Labor Day weekend post, DOH offered advice on what to do as COVID-19 cases have slightly increased across the state.

The post on X, formerly known as Twitter, says you can “protect yourself and others” from COVID-19 by washing your hands at least 20 seconds, wearing a mask in crowded, indoor spaces, and to get an updated vaccine (“now is the time,” DOH says). It does not take a medical degree to understand all three pieces of advice would not stop the spread of COVID-19.

Handwashing is still an important part of staying healthy, but it doesn’t stop the spread of COVID-19. This respiratory virus rarely spreads on surfaces because it’s airborne. And contrary to the political mandate to wear masks, they do little stop the spread of COVID-19 to those around you.

Study after study have come to the same conclusion that mask mandates (and masks themselves) are an ineffective means of stopping the spread of COVID-19. “There’s still no evidence that masks are effective during a pandemic,” Tom Jefferson from the University of Oxford and lead author of a January 2023 Cochrane review, said. He said neither cloth, surgical, nor N-95 masks make a difference. Even mask evangelist Dr. Anthony Fauci now admits that the “data are less strong” that masks help in an epidemic or pandemic.

According to a June 2023 updated study in the “Annals of Internal Medicine,” mask wearing in a community and healthcare setting, where you’re around people with COVID-19, showed only “a small reduction in risk” of catching COVID-19. Likewise, findings presented to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases found that mask mandates “in a large London hospital during the first 10 months of Omicron activity (December 2021 to September 2022) made no discernible difference to reducing hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections.

“The analysis found that during a general community surge in SARS-CoV-2 infection in June 2022, removal of the mask policy was not associated with a statistically significant change in the rate of hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infection in the study group – with SARS-CoV-2 infection no higher than the rate when masks were obligatory,” a press release for the data announced.

Get an updated vaccine?

Medical professionals nationwide are advising people to not get the COVID-19 vaccine at this time. The reason is simple: the updated vaccine is the one that most closely matches the current variant.

“The majority of the coronavirus strains infecting people right now are either descended from, or related to, XBB.1.5, so the decision to target that variant with the vaccine ‘was about as good as you could imagine for the moment,’ said Trevor Bedford, a professor in the vaccine and infectious disease division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center,” reported The New York Times.

“The second reason to wait a month or two for the new vaccine is that it will increase the odds that your defenses against the virus will be strongest when cases are expected to peak, historically between December and February. Antibodies wane over time, and protection is highest during the first three months following an infection or vaccination,” it continued.

DOH advice appears to fly in the face of what the experts are saying. If it isn’t, they should explain, rather than post what looks like an old social media graphic to X. It doesn’t even note that you medical experts suggest you avoid any vaccine if you were recently hit with COVID-19.

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Here we go again

It looks like we’re headed for another round of COVID-19 hysteria from public health officials who refuse to admit when they’re wrong, and a media that frames the issue as a means to shame what it believes to be conservatives who don’t want to follow COVID-19 rules.

It became clear relatively early on in the pandemic that COVID-19 didn’t spread on surfaces and mask mandates quite obviously didn’t work to stop the spread. It was obvious that kids are the least likely to be meaningfully impacted by COVID-19 and that it’s near impossible to catch it outdoors. Yet public health officials were reticent to admit they got so much wrong, fearing it would lead to a breakdown in trust from a population uneager to commit to all that were asked of them.

But pretending the data backed their assumptions and guidance when it didn’t, was all that was needed to sow distrust with public health officials. All they had to do was say they were acting in good faith based on limited understanding of COVID-19, and reasonable people would understand. But many still haven’t admitted to any fault.

Their failure to state findings honestly also helped lead to left-wing media outlets derisively labeling critics of mask mandates and other mitigation policies as “COVID deniers” (as if anyone denied COVID existed). And they’re ready to do it all over again.

MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan recently claimed even closing schools was the right move and it’s a “myth” they caused learning loss or harmed kids. That is, of course, a lie, but one with a political agenda to attack conservatives and defend liberal policies. They’re sounding alarms now, as if to warn us that coverage will become irresponsible when we expect to see an actual increase in COVID cases during the winter, COVID-19 season. And while COVID-19 cases will go up, fewer will die because the variants have been so mild.

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What to do

Here’s my advice: do what you want in consultation with your medical provider.

Whether or not you wear a mask or get as many COVID-19 vaccines as your doctor will offer is up to you. If it brings you a sense of comfort, so be it. But leave the rest of us alone. And reconsider what you’re willing to do to children because you’ve been convinced that COVID-19 will kill you and everyone around you.

The data isn’t even alarming, by the way. The most recent COVID-19 hospitalization data show those patients account for only 3% (and 2% for ICU occupancy). And those who are in the hospital are almost certainly elderly or already ill. The death rate is almost zero.

No one is denying COVID-19. I just think that one side of this has a healthier response to a mild virus that will infect all of us (multiple times), just like other viruses. If public health officials and media covered flu hospitalizations and deaths the way they do COVID-19, you’d be deathly afraid of the flu, too. But I’m not afraid of the flu, even though I know from personal experience its dangers. (My father died from complications from the flu.) I’m also not afraid of COVID-19. I don’t want either, but I’m not going to live under a mask or get a booster shot every few months because of it.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book “What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our Cities.” Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Wash. Department of Health keeps promoting outdated COVID-19 advice