Rochelle Walensky, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), repeated findings from a flawed study to support her position on masking in schools on Tuesday.
During a Senate hearing, Walensky reiterated the need for masking in schools by claiming schools without mandates were more likely to risk outbreaks.
“We have new science that has demonstrated the value of masking. 3.5 times increased risk of school outbreaks if you’re unmasked in schools vs. masking in schools,” Walensky said.
This number referred to a study released by the CDC in September that claimed that schools in counties without mask mandates were 3.5 times more likely to experience a COVID-19 outbreak. This study has been heavily cited by Walensky in efforts to promote universal masking for children.
However, in December, this study came under fire by The Atlantic, who criticized several flaws within the methodology which, among other things, included 40 “virtual learning academies,” roughly 20 preschools and roughly 90 “vocational programs associated with otherwise-listed schools.”
“Still, the publication and agency endorsement of the Arizona study is especially demoralizing,” Zweig wrote. “How did research with so many obvious flaws make its way through all the layers of internal technical review? And why was it promoted so aggressively by the agency’s director? I reached out to Walensky’s office to ask about the study, noting its evident limitations and outlier result. How, if at all, does this research figure into the agency’s continuing guidance for schools around the country? The CDC did not respond to my inquiries.”
The CDC has also come under fire for shifting its recommendations regarding testing and quarantining. On Monday, a report suggested that the CDC would even recommend N95 or KN95 masks for protection against the omicron variant in defiance of previous allowances for cloth masks.
Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.