The White House needs to get its “messaging discipline together” as the omicron variant of COVID-19 surges across the country, one of the nation’s top public health experts said Sunday.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, lamented that agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health are putting out competing advice.
“What we know right now, people should be masking indoors, especially in large crowded spaces. That makes a lot of sense,” he said. “We are switching, I think from using the PCR tests [to] using the rapid antigen tests more commonly, that's going to be more common, and so the science here is changing. I think the messages has not kept up.”
“Right now you have CDC, FDA, NIH” advice, Jha said.
“I think the White House needs to get the messaging discipline together, speaking from the same page. My sense is that has not been happening consistently and enormously helpful to the American people if it was more consistent.”
According to Jha, in the Trump administration, there was just one messenger.
“You had… one messenger, [former] President [Donald] Trump,” he noted, adding however “he often said things wrong.”
“But there was one message,” Jha said.
Jha lamented there weren’t more tests going into the surge, and warned we’ll have to treat the virus differently than we have over past two years.
“I think we all agree we needed more tests during the surge and I'm sorry we didn't have it. I think it really did hamper our ability as a country to manage this,” he said of the surge.
“I don't believe that omicron is going to be the last wave we see,” he said. “Having widespread testing available is going to make an enormous difference as we get beyond the surge and before we face the next one. So, I'm thrilled to see more tests coming,… obviously we wish we had more tests going in.”
According to Jha, the nation is going from the “acute phase of the pandemic emergency, two years, into a more endemic phase. “
“The challenge for unvaccinated people, it's still pretty deadly,’ he said, adding: We have a challenge ahead, make systemic changes, but we have to treat this virus differently than the way we have in the last two years.”
“I do think that there's a high risk that as the pandemic continues, all of us will end up getting exposed and many of us will end up getting infected,” he added.
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