The Omicron variant is pushing the CDC into issuing recommendations based on what once would have been considered insufficient evidence, amid growing public concern about how these guidelines affect the economy and education. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been commended for short-circuiting a laborious process and taking a pragmatic approach to manage a national emergency, saying she was right to move ahead even when the data was unclear and agency researchers remained unsure. The challenge now for Dr. Walensky is figuring out how to convey this message to the public: “The science is incomplete, and this is our best advice for now.”
The smartest people I know are the ones who understand that they don’t know—can’t know—everything. Yet, they’re ready to act on imperfect information, especially when being slow is going to be costly.