CDC: Maybe we'll need masks next year for... the flu?

CDC: Maybe we'll need masks next year for... the flu?
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

While everyone is still busy worrying about the COVID pandemic, there’s another virus out there that hasn’t been getting any attention to speak of. That would be the influenza virus, another coronavirus that causes the seasonal flu. According to the CDC, the main reason for the lack of attention is that almost nobody has been diagnosed with confirmed cases of the disease this year. And when I say “almost nobody,” that’s not an exaggeration. So far this year there have only been one percent of the usual number of confirmed cases. You might be tempted to think that’s good news, right? But as usual, the folks at the CDC are dumping cold water all over that idea. They claim that the tiny number of confirmed cases of the flu is actually bad news because we might have a massive outbreak next winter. (NBC News)

More than a year after the pandemic started, Covid-19 is still ravaging parts of the world, but now scientists are warning that another virus could be a serious threat in the coming months: influenza.

This season, the flu virtually disappeared, with less than 2,000 lab-confirmed cases in the United States to date, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a typical flu season, the U.S. could see more than 200,000 lab-confirmed cases by this time of year, a tiny fraction of the true number of cases, estimated to range from 9 million to 45 million annually.

Scientists and public health experts say this year, Covid-19 mitigation measures, like social distancing and masking, most likely stopped flu transmission.

So they’re crediting face masks, frequent hand-washing and social distancing with almost entirely knocking out the flu this season. Fair enough, I suppose. But with almost nobody catching it, the doctors at the CDC claim that few people are building up antibodies against that virus. They also note that the flu virus mutates very rapidly, far faster than COVID has so far. So with a large population that hasn’t been exposed and new strains waiting to break out, that’s a formula for a lot of cases next year. Also, the medical community hasn’t had the chance to develop new vaccines to protect against the latest flu variants.

NBC talked to Dr. Jesse Goodman, a professor of medicine and infectious disease who has worked with the FDA and the CDC. He said that we’ve learned a lot from COVID, particularly when it comes to sanitizing, mask-wearing and social distancing. He said, “If some of these practices continue, it could be that things aren’t bad next year. One question will be, how much will those habits persist?”

Perhaps this is just me being paranoid, but that response immediately raises my suspicions. Even if we get every possible person vaccinated for COVID over the summer, is the government laying the groundwork for suggesting that we’ll need mask mandates to prevent an outbreak of the flu later this year? Because if that’s the case, it’s seriously time to break out the pitchforks and torches, people.

The flu has been with us for more than a century in its current form. It’s not ever going to go away. And now COVID is going to be with us forever also. We never had to put up with all of this executive mandate garbage to deal with the flu and we’re not going to tolerate it permanently to deal with COVID. If this situation doesn’t get wrapped up fairly soon, I can assure you that executive mandates will quickly become the number one issue in next year’s midterms. Legislative candidates who run on a promise to curb or entirely cancel the executive powers of mayors and governors, and even the President, will be winning elections by wide margins.

The White House has been using the highly-politicized CDC as a shield thus far and too many governors and mayors have followed suit. The same supposed experts who are justifying all of these mandates are taking their marching orders from a teacher’s union. And there’s absolutely no reason that we need to tolerate it.

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