OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An original version of this story incorrectly stated that 3/4 of COVID deaths occurred in people with several comorbidities. According to a fact check from Healthfeedback.org, “CDC director’s comments that 75% of COVID-19 deaths are among people with four comorbidities applies only to vaccinated people.” Healthfeed.org also stated, “Rochelle Walensky’s comments were about the proportions of vaccinated people who had severe outcomes from COVID-19. Many social media posts and articles that quoted her didn’t make this distinction, giving a wrong impression of the effectiveness of the vaccines.” We regret the error and have corrected our story.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a little-reported interview last week that the vast majority of Americans who died from COVID-19 had at least four other comorbidities, which has led to criticism from some.
The admission came during an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.
“The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 percent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities,” Walensky told the program last week. “So really, these are people who were unwell to begin with.”
Walensky’s remarks came in response to criticism from the American Medical Association and others over the CDC’s reduced self-quarantine guidelines, taking it down to five days followed by five days of wearing a mask, as opposed to the previous standard of quarantining seven to 10 days.
Others saw the frank admission by Walensky as the Biden administration shifting gears on messaging as the latest variant of the virus, omicron spreads like wildfire throughout the country — after the president criticized his predecessor, Donald Trump, repeatedly during his 2020 campaign and vowed to “shut down the virus” not the country.
“I am not going to shut down the economy, period,” Biden said during his campaign. “I’m going to shut down the virus. That’s what I’m going to shut down.”
He also pledged not to implement a vaccine mandate but did so anyway, though the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the mandate for private businesses last week.
Critics took aim at the administration following Walensky’s remarks.
“The CDC director just said over 75% of ‘covid deaths’ occurred in people with at least four comorbidities. Since Biden can’t shut down covid, suddenly all this data is getting shared publicly,” Outkick’s Clay Travis tweeted along with a video clip of Walensky making her remarks.
The CDC director just said over 75% of “covid deaths” occurred in people with at least four comorbidities. Since Biden can’t shut down covid, suddenly all this data is getting shared publicly. pic.twitter.com/NKvproy3lx
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) January 10, 2022
Others see the admission as a means of getting ahead of virus messaging before the 2022 midterm elections, which polling suggests could be politically disastrous for Democrats amid cratering approval ratings for Biden himself as well as Vice President Kamala Harris.
“…[C]ase numbers have only gotten worse, and the left has realized they are losing the perception battle on COVID-19. It is apparent in many metrics, from Biden’s poll numbers to packed event venues across the country,” Grant Atkinson wrote for The Western Journal on Jan. 10.
“Americans are no longer willing to wait for a far-off dream of a world where COVID-19 is completely eradicated. They are ready to live their lives and acknowledge that COVID-19 is just a threat they will have to live with,” he continued.
“For the vast majority of Americans, the threat is rather minimal compared to the worst-case scenarios pushed by the fear-mongering left when the pandemic began,” he added.
Atkinson concluded: “Walensky’s admission is not motivated by any sort of new data or findings, because this data has been apparent for months on end. Instead, it is a purely political move to try and gain some support on an issue where the Democrats are quickly losing ground.”
Left-wing media outlets quickly pounced on the criticism of Walensky, claiming — like CNN — that “right-wing figures” were somehow distorting what she said.
The outlet reported:
Walensky did not say that more than 75% of the people who have died of Covid-19 had four or more comorbidities. “Good Morning America” edited out some of Walensky’s comments; the viral 11-second clip was further shortened from the edited footage. The full footage, which Good Morning America released hours after the controversy erupted on Monday, proves that Walensky was speaking specifically about a small number of deaths that were described in a new federal study. That study found that, of a group of 1.2 million people who were fully vaccinated between December 2020 and October 2021, 36 of them had a death associated with Covid-19 — and that, of these 36 people, 28 of them, or about 78%, had at least four of eight “risk factors” for experiencing a severe outcome from the virus, such as an age of over 65, diabetes and a variety of additional chronic diseases.
The CDC website notes, however: “More than 81% of COVID-19 deaths occur in people over age 65. The number of deaths among people over age 65 is 80 times higher than the number of deaths among people aged 18-29.
“The risk of severe COVID-19 increases as the number of underlying medical conditions increases in a person,” the health agency adds.