The biggest problem in health policy is inconsistency. For this reason, it makes no sense that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exist Extending his mask mandate on planes, buses and trains while withdrawing Title 42, which has done far more to protect our country (and the people who enter it) from disease than a thin cloth mask ever did.
As we enter an important phase of learning to live with the virus, focusing mainly on serious illnesses and protecting the most vulnerable, it is time for all mandatory strategies except track 42 which is to be removed.
The COVID pandemic began back in March 2020 when the CDC made the decision to invoke Title 42 to allow for the timely deportation of some migrants. The United States lacked adequate immigrant holding facilities that could provide adequate social distancing and ventilation. We had no treatments or vaccines and were only just learning the magnitude of this emerging threat.
Remember that Title 42 is a public health tool designed to help protect the health security of border crossing workers, U.S. border personnel, and U.S. communities. In 2020, a growing number of illegal immigrants had active COVID-19 and served as a potential source of spread for all three groups.
US Customs and Border Protection stations were overwhelmed, and not only did agents get sick, but migrants passed it on among themselves. The CDC has rightly stated that it is in the public health interest to turn back migrants at risk of infection, rather than continuing to try to contain them in a super-spreading environment. Soon, more than 5% tested positive, and despite best efforts, all hospitals in and around McAllen and Laredo, Texas, saw a surge in COVID cases.
The Title 42 appeal was a “Buck Stops Here” CDC decision based on public health, not politics. The repatriation of nearly 2 million people across our southern border to Mexico since March 2020 has not only helped spare local hospitals, but also saved many thousands of lives.
Consider that the United States has a long history of due diligence on immigrants, preceding the inclusion of Title 42 in the Public Health Act, which allows U.S. health officials to restrict entry of persons or property into the country refuse “to prevent the spread of communicable diseases”. We both had relatives who entered America legally, including via Ellis Island, more than 100 years ago, with officials carefully examining their necks for scrofula (tuberculosis) lymph node swelling. Why should that be different now?
The COVID pandemic continues to pose a significant threat to the life and health of those most at risk. So even if we return to normal life, it is premature to reverse the use of Title 42 in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 and all emerging variants. At our borders, we continue to lack substantial, real-time testing and treatment facilities. We also lack social distancing and proper ventilation.
We hope that the current CDC and its leadership will reverse course and base their Title 42 decision on public health and not an expansion of government immigration policy. The CDC is responsible for ensuring that COVID mitigation measures are in place for all illegal immigrants in US custody. It’s much more difficult to determine a migrant’s COVID risk than a passenger on a plane or train – which is why these two policy changes are contradictory and appear to be driven by politics rather than science. (The CDC’s parent company, the Department of Health and Human Services, added to the contradiction this week by extending the public health emergency.)
Let data and improvements in public health at border facilities determine which direction Title 42 should ultimately take, not Washington policy. America is still a land of opportunity and an inspiration to many around the world, but putting migrants at serious health risk and increasing the spread of contagion while penalizing legal travelers was not what our founders had in mind.
Robert Redfield, MD served as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2018 to 2021. Marc Siegel, MD, is clinical professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at NYU Langone Health and medical analyst at Fox News.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/14/the-cdc-is-hypocritical-over-its-covid-policies/ The CDC is hypocritical about its COVID policy