Courtesy CBS rendering of two CDC spring of 2021 survey findings about American high school girls reported Monday, Feb 13, 2022

by James C. Sherlock

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in full self-defense mode.

CDC and the left backed, indeed insisted, upon social isolation during the pandemic.

Now they deflect and deny agency in the consequences. They continue to try to insulate themselves from the catastrophic educational and mental health effects on children and adolescents of that social isolation.

A weakened CDC Director is pledging to overhaul the agency and its culture, a backhanded admission of the unimaginably bad performance of CDC during COVID.

The entrenched bureaucracy that is that agency and its culture is admitting nothing. They are counting the days until she leaves.

So, if experience counts for anything, we pretty much know how the CDC “overhaul” will work out.

Virginia is due for the same sort of review of state actions during COVID.

The Northam administration stumbled badly at nearly every new turn after failing to either exercise or implement Virginia’s own pandemic emergency plan. Which was excellent and predicted nearly exactly the course of events.

Then they tried to cover up the existence of that plan itself.

I am not sure that such a review is forthcoming. If it is, it will be preemptively be declared political. It must be done anyway.

The federal government, under progressive management, is “moving on.”

Or trying to.

I hope Virginia government does not make the same mistake.

My article Bias and Risk in Behavioral Polls and Studies – A Cautionary Tale for Public Policy raised among our commenters on the left attempts to defend against criticism the CDC’s (and their own) public policy prescriptions during COVID.

Shutdowns and masks, remember, were signs of personal political identity during COVID. That was especially true on the left.

This from The Atlantic in May of 2021:

Even as scientific knowledge of COVID-19 has increased, some progressives have continued to embrace policies and behaviors that aren’t supported by evidence, such as banning access to playgrounds, closing beaches, and refusing to reopen schools for in-person learning.

What made that unforgivable was the fact that the severe consequences of social isolation on children and adolescents had been published and peer-reviewed in the scientific community well before COVID, and should have been known at CDC at the time the recommendations were made.

Even NPR, in May of 2022, noted that, two years prior in May of 2020, predictions had been made that had come true:

  • Prediction May 2020: “Student learning will suffer. Vulnerable and marginalized students will be most affected.” A study from November 2021 found these gaps were bigger at schools that had less in-person learning in the 2020-2021 school year. A fall 2021 study from UVa found early reading skills in Virginia schools at a 20-year low.
  • Prediction May 2020: “Children are at risk for toxic stress when schools close.”  In October 2021, teachers told pollsters that children’s mental health was their top concern. 

To confirm what the teachers had predicted 17 months prior, CDC’s own profoundly disturbing Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) Data Summary Trends Report: 2011–2021, released Monday, found that girls in particular suffered extraordinary post-COVID distress.

Other highlights:

  • In 2021, more than 4 in 10 (42%) students felt persistently sad or hopeless and nearly one-third (29%) experienced poor mental health.
  • In 2021, more than 1 in 5 (22%) students seriously considered attempting suicide and 1 in 10 (10%) attempted suicide.

CDC blames that on the pandemic.

They fail to mention their own lead role in the social isolation that was a primary cause of the mental health stress and behavioral dysfunctions. From the  YRBS report:

Collected in fall 2021, these data also represent the first YRBS data collected since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic .

Although most schools had returned to in-person instruction by that time, the time spent out of school for many students may have impacted the school-related YRBS variables.

Disruptions in daily life also remained common during the time of collection .

Other research and surveys have described the impact of the pandemic on adolescent health and well-being, which was severe. We continue to document, through the 2021 YRBS, the ongoing challenges young people face.

Read again the disembodied observation that “the time spent out of school for many students may have impacted the school-related YRBS variables.” Strong stuff.

CDC’s own National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP) told that story as it unfolded, logging huge increases in mental-health-related emergency department visits every month.

Yet they use the words “may have” when reporting the outcomes.

CDC has never made mention of the fact that a dozen high quality studies between 1990 and 2000 had examined social isolation in children and adolescents and predicted the very results that CDC’s 2021 survey found and CDC’s public policies during COVID had urged.

Or that NPR had published interviews that made the same predictions in May of 2020 as detailed above.

But CDC leadership knows they screwed up.

In April 2022, CDC launched an effort to refine and modernize its structures, systems, and processes around developing and deploying our science and programs.

The goal was to learn how to pivot our long-standing practices and adapt to pandemics and other public health emergencies, then to apply those lessons across the organization.

The effort included a review of key workflows, with a particular focus on ensuring CDC’s science reaches the public in an understandable, accessible, and implementable manner as quickly as possible.


CDC is going to “modernize structures systems and processes around developing and deploying our science.” They are going to “learn how to pivot.” How to “adapt to pandemics.” “Apply lessons.” “Review key workflows.” “Ensure CDC’s science reaches the public better.”

When I referred above to the Director of the CDC as “weakened,” remember when the White House said Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was speaking in her “personal capacity” when she said schools might reopen. Seems she had not checked with the American Federation of Teachers.

The first step to improvement is to admit failure. Not gonna happen. Either at CDC nor among progressives.

So, odds are the bureaucracy at CDC is not going to do any overhaul.

Virginia. Speaking of bad performances by bureaucracies, remember also that the Northam administration, having failed to train for or implement its own pandemic plan, and in an attempted coverup, eliminated all reference to it on its websites.

It was the responsibility of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

I have no information at this point whether the Youngkin administration has revived the excellent but banished HAZARD-SPECIFIC ANNEX #4 PANDEMIC INFLUENZA RESPONSE (Non-Clinical) to the Virginia Emergency Operations Plan.

Or what level of state training and exercises for emergencies of all types have been resumed.

I have made the appropriate FOIA inquiry and written about it.

Bottom line.

The CDC, in direct coordination with the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, in February of 2021 insisted upon strict social restrictions in public schools for far longer than indicated by the science.

“Thank you again for Friday’s rich discussion about forthcoming CDC guidance and for your openness to the suggestions made by our president, Randi Weingarten, and the AFT,” wrote AFT senior director for health issues Kelly Trautner in a Feb 1 email — which described the union as the CDC’s “thought partner.”

In doing so they ignored the fact that many American schools like Catholic schools in Virginia opened successfully in August/September 2020.

They ignored entirely the widely and accurately predicted catastrophic effects on children and adolescents.

Virginia state government and some but not all Virginia school boards took their advice.

The public is doomed to see a repeat of such failures in the future if acknowledgements of failure during COVID are not made by our federal and state governments.

We are waiting.

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37 responses to “Government Actors Try to Deflect, Deny and “Move On” from Failures During COVID”

  1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    We’ve been had.

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      The collateral damage of the actions of government are incalculable.

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Sherlock misses the main point. It largely worked. The population was trained to meekly accept government overreach and provide blind obedience whenever “science” was invoked, and stood by silently as dissenters were crushed like bugs. Several regulars here prove it and still beat on any deviation from The Revealed Truth. You see people wearing masks in their own cars and you know, another automaton was created. Victory for The Power.

    3. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      So certainly no need to review what happened. “Things” just happened.

      No human agency was involved. Nothing could have been, or was, predicted.

      We can only hope “things’ go better in the next emergency. Say a major flood response or the next pandemic.

      If not, we can just “move on”, or rather stumble on, to the next.

      No need to bother the bureaucracies.

  2. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    Interesting that Faust Fauci has admitted in a article that the vaccines didn’t work.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    The ONE good thing from the pandemic is a legitimate excuse to wear a mask at the doctor’s office. I will never go without one again.

    For years I have always tried to isolate myself in the waiting room and inevitably some mother with an open mouth coughing little street urchin would park it next to me. Or worse, some old chimney with a hack.

  4. Thomas Dixon Avatar
    Thomas Dixon

    I can’t believe intelligent people continue to wear masks or get these shots if they aren’t forced to. But that should be a choice. Unfortunately, at Virginia’s state run mental health facilities, patients who test positive, even though they have no symptoms, are forced to stay in a small bedroom for at least ten days. Some are depressed, some are demented, some hear voices. The worst thing you can do to them is to isolate them in a bedroom. It is cruel and it is abusive and it is happening right now. If you want to act like the air is so dangerous you have to wear a mask and get six experimental stroke shots, that is your right. Don’t push that on our most vulnerable.

    1. We will see how you feel after you have lost friends or relatives to Covd. It is hard to imagine that any intelligent person would want to get the virus let alone those with existing vulnerabilities. Is it somebody’s right to spread Covid when they have tested positive?

  5. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    I have “no doubt” the masks are all but worthless unless you are in a room full of folks wearing the best ones, and the “six foot” rule was disproven almost immediately after being issued. The bug is airborne. Perhaps you do now get the shots are also worthless at prevention? (But do protect against bad outcomes.) Covid, Flu and the Common Cold are not going anywhere. My second positive test followed shot #5…(and a trip to Europe, where the masks were mostly long gone.)

    1. Over the past two years, I have had over a dozen doctor and dentist appointments involving temperature checks, social distancing, and required mask wearing. For whatever reason this combination has always worked in the past to avoid infection. No need to argue with success. While I guess that I could ignore all precautions, we do continue to quarantine as the reasonable thing to do. I am not willing to accept another Covid infection as the cost of future routine appointments.

  6. Jonathan DeWilicker Avatar
    Jonathan DeWilicker

    Never vaxxed, already worked remote, walked/hiked/ran 8000 miles during lockdown, all outdoors. Had people run away from me on trails, had people confront me, almost got into fights. Lost friends and family members to insanity. They’re now all in terrible shape, mentally and physically damaged. I will never forgive or forget how I was treated during this time.

    1. You seem to have been smart to avoid crowded indoor settings. Based upon personal experience, I pray that your luck holds because avoiding a Covid infection is not insanity.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        For two years, AARP stopped doing “in-person” taxes for people PRECISELY because not everyone wanted to get vaccinated nor wear a mask and here we have volunteers in a room full of people who are coming and going and the volunteer even if vaccinated is totally vulnerable to the folks who not only don’t “believe” but are willing to show up in a room full of people involving volunteers who are usually older and retired.

        It’s this kind of thing that anyone who might deliver a personal service to others had to put up with and it just was not worth the risk to many.

        Most Doctors and Dentists did not. They’d not even see you if you would not wear a mask and preferred that you also be vaccinated.

        And yet, the same folks who refused to take precautions still have grievances against those that were at risk from these folks.

        1. Yes they refuse to take any responsibility for their actions and it is unclear whether they would even quarantine when they were infected.

  7. James C. Sherlock Avatar
    James C. Sherlock

    Some Virginia schools closed three months. Some 15 months.

    You ask me to prove that social isolation and the length of it mattered to the mental health of the kids?

    You and a few other progressives, some of them gathered in this comment space, may be the only persons drawing breath who doubt it.

    Let me give it a shot, though it will bounce off of you.

    Let me refer you to an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August of 2021. Addressing the Global Crisis of Child and Adolescent Mental Health

    “A meta-analysis consisting of 29 studies totaling 80 879 youth globally found prevalence estimates of clinically significant depression and anxiety symptoms to be significantly higher (double) than the estimates reported prior to the onset of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns. Of added concern, throughout the past year, the authors found that prevalence rates for depression and anxiety increased as the pandemic progressed. Notably, differences were found in rates of depression and anxiety symptoms for older adolescents and girls, with both groups expressing higher rates compared with younger children and boys, respectively. Likely, these findings may not be surprising in the context of the extraordinary changes faced by youth including social isolation, loss of peer interactions, and other lost supports no longer accessible through schools and communities.”

    “Increased as the pandemic progressed”. That from the JAMA editorial board in August of 2021.

    You don’t find those findings surprising.

    You find them politically inconvenient. Thus you deny them.

    I suspect the kids that were horribly damaged both in their educations and in their mental health will find cold comfort in that denial.

    Progressives join the CDC bureaucracy in opposing an independent investigation into what and who went wrong, because that would mean something did go wrong, and that people made the wrong decisions.

    Now consider that I answered you knowing with absolute certainty that I wasted my time.

  8. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    Still a lot of denial and refusal to acknowledge reality from the so called party of SCIENCE! people.
    Still unaddressed – violating the Nuremberg Code, violating religious liberty, violation of medical practice norms, denial of early treatment therapeutics (costing hundreds of thousands of lives), government censorship, regulatory capture of governmental agencies, “vaccine” harms, still not fully quantified.
    The harm of lockdowns, the ineffectiveness of masks are already known. The lack of need for the “vaccine” is already known by the drop in uptake and except in rare circumstances I doubt it was worth the risk. Finally, what happened to America? We took that? We deserve to die as a country if we have so few people willing to oppose irrational tyranny.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Deserve it or not, America is in a death spiral.

      1. The woke left and right are the driving force. As long as the opposition is “evil” nobody really cares about the country.

    2. Sure a Covid hospitalization is a better choice than the vaccine. Will see how that works out for you.

      1. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        It is impossible to reason with people who insist on being blind.
        One day, maybe you will wake up to see how many ways you were lied to.
        But go ahead and wish death on people who disagree with you…
        Cuz you’re a good person!

        1. I tested positive for Covid and did quarantine until testing negative. Would you do the same? I do not and did not wish death on anyone but was just pointing out that a hospitalization due to the virus was something to be avoided if at all possible. Perhaps you simply do not see any way to avoid it but it is your choice. In this regard, I and millions of others did woke up.

          1. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            I tested “positive” a month after I had it. Did I mention the tests were flawed too?
            Then I had to wait 2 weeks for surgery based on a false positive, but that was why they cycled the PCR test so many times – more cycles = more cases = more fear

          2. LarrytheG Avatar

            but you did believe the doctors when they advised surgery? science?

          3. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Larry – can you stop making idiotic comments?
            Masks don’t work.
            Lockdowns were harmful.
            The suppression of ivermectin and HCQ and early treatment did kill people. That is real science.
            The stupid test was inaccurate! Weeks after I had it.
            Somehow, I didn’t die from Covid. The people who die from Covid or are hospitalized generally have all sorts of other problems.

            Meanwhile, it didn’t take a lot of belief in “SCIENCE!” to know that I had some weird thing happening in my hand for decades that finally got removed.
            You make dumb false analogies all the time. I am not against Stop signs. I am good with driving on the right side of the road. I am not good with bureaucrats making rules that are not supported by actual data and being told to trust them because they are “experts.” Further, the way to require such things is by a law enacted by a legislature and signed by a governor, and even then there need to be medical and religious and bodily autonomy exceptions.

            Now to pre-kill your stupid argument to follow over bodily autonomy and abortion, the “fetus” is a human being and did nothing wrong. If you wish to argue for convenience of the mother or absolution of the father, be honest and admit you are a eugenicist.

          4. LarrytheG Avatar

            Did the Docs wear masks when they operated on you?

          5. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Larry to the rescue of the Dem narrative with yet another false equivalency! Yay Larry!
            Masks have been normal protocol in operating rooms for a long time, and not for respiratory viruses. Further, I don’t know – I was out. Did I believe in anesthesia?

          6. LarrytheG Avatar

            Yes. But do they “work”?

          7. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Not for Covid. You done with your ridiculous stubborn obstinacy yet?

          8. LarrytheG Avatar

            how would you know what they “work” for or not? Aren’t you just taking science “word” that they “work” for surgeons and you really don’t know much more about that “science”?

          9. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            And you do? What is your point that isn’t – censor me, but I don’t know how else to say it – stupid?
            Seriously – you are a waste of time. You repeat the same bovine excrement repeatedly.
            Maybe you are trying to say trust the experts.
            Well, there was a time when the experts may actually have been expert, and not political or bureaucratic hacks.
            That is not the current case.
            Surgical masks were accepted protocol everywhere for…60? 70? 80? years. I haven’t read a paper on that and neither have you, you incredible waste of time.

            I did, however, read the literature on masks, IVM, HCQ, “super immunity” with natural plus the shot, etc. I could drive a truck through the CDC super immunity report – it had so many qualifiers as to be worthless, but UVA and VDH and all you totalitarians couldn’t wait to repeat the headline and call real people actually doing real scientific inquiry (cuz the hacks wouldn’t) names . So try to make a point that has some relevance to today.

            Hey, have you seen the reports that say driving on the right side of the road makes sense?
            Do you know rain dances work? There have been no CDC reports saying they don’t, so they must work!

            Masks do not work for respiratory viruses. We knew that before. It was an exercise in tyranny. The kids got totally screwed by you totalitarians. That’s the truth. Deal with it.

          10. LarrytheG Avatar

            I DO accept the SCIENCE behind the decisions of surgeons to wear masks and I DO believe they DO “work”, just as I believe the same surgeons when they recommend that I get an operation and I do it because I trust them and the science they are relying on themselves to do it right.

            When the same doctors tell me I need a flu shot or a shingles shot, I DO believe them.

            When the same docs tell me I need to wear a mask to their waiting room – I DO believe them.

            simple stuff for some us. No an ti-govt, anti-science conspiracy theories and such.

            I trust them far more than I do the wackadoodles promoting lies and conspiracy theories.

          11. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Then you are pretty gullible.
            Please tell me any lies I have told about Covid.
            Is the Covid vaccine an “experimental product” requiring “emergency use authorization” or not? The “approved vaccine” has not to date to my knowledge been administered in the US yet. If it has, it is less than 10% out of 700 million shots., and I think still zero.
            Is it a requirement for EUA status that there be no effective therapeutics?
            If the Covid shot administered is the EUA shot (where the Pharmas are protected from liability), does the Nuremberg Code require “informed” and “willing” consent?
            Does the VAERS system have a number of adverse reports with respect to the Covid “vaccine” orders of magnitude beyond what has been historically accepted?
            Does the alternate V-Safe system report a number of SAEs (serious adverse events) orders of magnitude above what has been historically acceptable?
            Did the UVA student population that was triple jabbed have Covid cases at a higher rate than the unvaxed students, even though the unvaxed were required to be tested weekly?
            Did Dr. Fauci know masks did not work for respiratory viruses before Covidiocy kicked in and advise friends of Obama they were useless?
            Did the government censor scientific inquiry?

            Just to make it easy for you, the answer to every question is “Yes.” That’s science and data and fact.

            Now list the lies (and you only know what the DNC distorts for you to mindlessly repeat…)

          12. I will take your failure to answer as an indication that you would / did not quarantine when you were actually positive.

          13. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            And you are wrong. I stayed home because I was sick. Like what people did without government “help.” What does you question have to do with anything? Were you trying to “out” me as a bad person because I didn’t follow our “experts?” I didn’t signal solidarity by wearing a mask and masking my kids and pets so everyone would know I was part of the noble virtue-signal crowd?

            Seriously, people on the Left need to look in the mirror about Covid policy and totalitarian impulses. YOU WERE WRONG. Violating the Nuremberg Code – WRONG. Censorship – WRONG. Using accrediting agencies to attack critics – WRONG
            Grandparents dying alone – WRONG (and inhumane)
            Suppressing cheap therapeutics and early treatment – WRONG (and increased the death count)

          14. I was not WRONG because I did not do any of those things and am not even on the left as you define it. I am glad that you stayed home as it was the responsible thing to do. I would like to think that everyone was or will be as responsible but it is hard to judge these days with so much misinformation out there. Along with those who would deny others personal rights such as wearing a mask if they deem it appropriate. Unfortunately, like with many illnesses, Covid can be spread before symptoms appear and isolating after possible exposure is also reasonable.

          15. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Who wants to “deny” wearing masks if you want to?
            It’s the mandate. They don’t work, but if you want to, wear it…
            Meanwhile, buzzword giving you away…”misinformation.” Sorry, the government and media lied their rear ends off during Covid (and Trump’s presidency) and censored legitimate discourse, and the critics were right!

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