CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen appears to have changed her tune when it comes to the implementation of government imposed restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
During a Monday appearance on “Anderson Cooper 360,” the former Planned Parenthood president argued that “the science has changed” surrounding the pandemic, leading her to support the reduction and elimination of restrictions despite previously advocating for some that critics felt were unnecessary or excessive. Her commentary coincided with several Democrat-led states ending state-wide school mask mandates in recent days, including New Jersey and Connecticut.
“There was, and is, a time and place for pandemic restrictions. But when they were put in, it was always with the understanding that they would be removed as soon as we can. And, in this case, circumstances have changed. Case counts are declining. Also, the science has changed,” Wen told host John Berman after he asked her to respond to states lifting their school mask rules.
Wen said that data showed individuals who were vaccinated were well protected against the omicron variant of the virus, the most dominant variant in the U.S., and that people who chose to wear a high-quality mask were also receiving additional protection even if the people around them were not wearing masks.
“And so, in this case, I’m not saying – I don’t think anyone, really, is saying – that no one should ever wear masks, rather that the responsibility should shift from a government mandate imposed from the state or the local district of the school … it should shift to an individual responsibility by the family, who can still decide that their child can wear a mask if needed,” she added.
Wen came under fire for the remarks from those who have long opposed coronavirus restrictions, particularly against students who have been at an extremely low risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes throughout the pandemic.
Wen’s statements on masks ran in stark contrast to her views last fall when she said the country was “nowhere near” ready to start lifting mask regulations in schools until all children were vaccinated and other external measures were in place. Throughout the pandemic, however, children
She also suggested at the time that life should be “hard” for Americans who were not vaccinated, and that those who refused to get the shots should face weekly testing.
She has, however, consistently maintained that masks serve as a “very powerful layer of protection.”
Wen went on to argue against looking at the number of coronavirus cases diagnosed each day across the country, but rather the number of hospitalizations, to determine the acceptable level to “relax all restrictions.”
She stated that there was harm in having children continue to wear masks, but that masking should potentially be brought back if a new variant arises that younger people are more susceptible to.
“But we should also be intellectually honest and say that masking has had a cost, especially for the youngest learners, people with English as a second language, children with learning disabilities. There has been a cost to them. So the risk-benefit calculation has really changed,” she said.
Wen later called on the White House to follow the example of the states choosing to end their mask mandates, arguing it was becoming “less and less relevant” if the guidance the CDC was putting out wasn’t being followed by anyone.
“That makes the CDC and our federal public health authorities have less credibility. And so, I really believe that they need to be changing their guidance,” Wen said. “We need to hear their leadership here. The CDC has already lost a lot of trust and credibility. This is their time to rebuild and remove restrictions as quickly as they were put in.”
Fox News’ Yael Halon contributed to this report.