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CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said Thursday in a Washington Post column and corresponding Twitter feed that “our new normal” regarding COVID-19 should involve allowing individuals to assess their “own risks.” and to no longer cancel potential “superspread” events.
Prominent Twitter users, including doctors and liberal journalists, have accused Wen of “dangerous”, “disgusting” posts that “kill” people in response.
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The controversy began with his article commenting on the recent Washington DC Gridiron Club dinner that led to an outbreak of COVID among DC politicians.
Rather than berate people for daring to attend big events like these during a pandemic, Wen, formerly the head of Planned Parenthood, explained that we’ve arrived at a “new normal” in which people should “reflect at their own risk” and be allowed to make their own decisions.
In a Twitter thread associated with the article, Wen said: “The Gridiron Club dinner was probably a #covid19 superspreader. But events like this should continue. This is our new normal – one that is based about individuals thinking about their own risks and the risks they pose to others.”
Wen listed examples of how people can exercise judgment in this ‘new normal’, tweeting that ‘event organizers should decide what level of risk they can tolerate and what precautions they want to take’ , and that they may 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 by saying, “Accepting #covid19 infections as part of our lives doesn’t mean we give up. Rather, it means acknowledging that we finally have the tools to live with, and that people are going to make choices that are different from ours.”
It sparked a firestorm among the most cautious of COVID on Twitter.
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Founder of the COVID survivor advocacy group, Diana Zicklin Berrent, tweeted: “@DrLeanaWen is determined to kill us. Stop giving him a voice @washingtonpost. You’re complicit here. We don’t need to confront matters of life and death.”
Liberal journalist Lisa Snowden accused Wen of serving elite interests by exonerating their guilt for attending glitzy DC galas. “@DrLeanaWen’s job during this pandemic has been to excuse power. Not to educate. Not to keep people safe. Truly shameful,” she tweeted.
Yale epidemiology researcher Gregg Gonsalves called Wen’s message “disgusting” and “anathema” to public health. He tweeted, “This is just disgusting stuff from @DrLeanaWen. Now she’s now a pro-super event broadcaster. It would be comical, but she’s anathema to all that public health stands for. These events CAN continue: masks would have made the safest.”
Professor Kimberly Prather from the University of San Diego said: “I disagree. The new normal must include cleaning indoor air. It should NOT be like this. This message is dangerous and constitutes 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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