The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that vaccinated people are extremely unlikely to spread COVID-19 to others, and thus can safely travel with minimal risk.
But also, it's theoretically possible for the vaccinated to infect others, and people still shouldn't travel, according to…the CDC.
Confused? Blame CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who constantly delivers good news about the amazing efficacy of the vaccines and then undercuts this seconds later by asserting that the fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks, socially distance, and avoid travel if they can.
At a public briefing on Friday, Walensky said that vaccinated people "can resume travel at low risk to themselves." She even conceded that the vaccinated do not need to take COVID-19 tests or quarantine after travel.
"Fully vaccinated grandparents can fly to visit their healthy grandkids without getting a COVID-19 test or self-quarantining, provided they follow the other recommended prevention measures while traveling," she said.
But just because vaccinated folks can travel doesn't mean they should travel.
"While we believe that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, CDC is not recommending travel at this time due to the rising number of cases," said Walensky.
This may sound contradictory, but it's standard fare for the CDC, which doesn't want people to do anything that carries even a slight of risk of harm. Indeed, Walensky admitted earlier this week that all available evidence suggests "vaccinated people do not carry the virus" at all, meaning the risk of transmission from the vaccinated to the unvaccinated is likely quite low. Fearful that this terrific news might make people less cautious, the CDC immediately walked back the guidance.
"Dr. Walensky spoke broadly during this interview," a panicked CDC spokesperson told The New York Times. "It's possible that some people who are fully vaccinated could get Covid-19. The evidence isn't clear whether they can spread the virus to others. We are continuing to evaluate the evidence."
To close off the possibility that someone, somewhere might conclude that vaccination is good because it offers a ticket back to normality, the Times story added quotes from other alarmist health officials:
"There cannot be any daylight between what the research shows — really impressive but incomplete protection — and how it is described," said Dr. Peter Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
"This opens the door to the skeptics who think the government is sugarcoating the science," Dr. Bach said, "and completely undermines any remaining argument why people should keep wearing masks after being vaccinated."
That door is open, and it's because of the science. There is little reason to think that people who are fully vaccinated do need to continue wearing masks in most circumstances: Given that COVID-19 does not spread easily outdoors, and it likely doesn't spread from the vaccinated to the unvaccinated except in rare cases, health officials could just admit that post-vaccination outdoor–mask wearing is safety theater.
They never will. At best, experts will admit the science shows virtually no transmission between unmasked, vaccinated people who congregate outdoors—but still insist that everyone follows all the same mitigation protocols. It's not the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's just the Center for Control.