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CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen said Thursday in a Washington Post column and corresponding Twitter thread that “our new normal” regarding COVID-19 should involve allowing individuals to assess their “own risks” and no longer canceling potential “superspreader” events.
Prominent Twitter users, including doctors and liberal journalists, accused Wen of “dangerous,” “repulsive” messaging that is “killing” people in response.
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The controversy started with her article commenting on the recent Washington D.C. Gridiron Club dinner which led to an outbreak of COVID among D.C. politicians.
Rather than admonish people who would dare attend large events like these during a pandemic, Wen, formerly the head of Planned Parenthood, explained that we’ve come to a “new normal” in which people should “be thoughtful about their own risks” and be allowed to make their own decisions.
In a Twitter thread paired with the piece, Wen stated, “The Gridiron Club dinner was probably a #covid19 superspreader. But events like this should still go on. This is our new normal — one that’s based on individuals being thoughtful about their own risks and the risks they pose to others.”
Wen listed examples of how people can exercise their judgment in this “new normal,” tweeting that “event organizers should decide the level of risk they can tolerate and the precautions they wish to have,” and that they can require “proof of vaccination” should they choose. Wen also pointed out how “people who want more protection can choose to wear a high-quality mask.”
She concluded her Twitter posts, stating, “accepting that #covid19 infections will be part of our lives doesn’t mean that we are giving up. Rather, it means acknowledging that we finally have the tools to live with it, and that people will make different choices from our own.”
This started a firestorm among the most COVID-cautious on Twitter.
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COVID survivor advocacy group founder Diana Zicklin Berrent tweeted, “@DrLeanaWen is set on killing us. Stop giving her a voice @washingtonpost. You are complicit here. We don’t need to both-sides matters of life and death.”
Liberal journalist Lisa Snowden accused Wen of serving the interests of the elite by absolving their guilt of attending glitzy D.C. galas. “@DrLeanaWen’s job during this pandemic has been to excuse power. Not to educate. Not to keep people safe. Really shameful,” she tweeted.
Yale epidemiology researcher Gregg Gonsalves called Wen’s post “repulsive” and “anathema” to public health. He tweeted, “This is just repulsive stuff from @DrLeanaWen. Now she’s now pro-super-spreader events. It would be comical, but she is an anathema to all that public health represents. These events CAN go on: masks would have made them safer.”
University of San Diego Professor Kimberly Prather said, “I do not agree. The new normal has to include cleaning indoor air. It did NOT have to be this way. This messaging is dangerous and a serious disappointment.”
And liberal activist Jazzmen Watson lamented Wen’s thread, tweeting, “Mask mandates are gone and everything is open. Dr. Wen won’t stop until people are legally allowed to cough directly into the mouths of unvaccinated infants and toddlers.”
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