Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Newsmax on Tuesday that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky should answer questions about children and the use of face masks but disagreed with contentions that the agency's guidelines have been more harmful to children.
"You have 200,000 kids who lost a caregiver during the pandemic," Adams, who served under former President Donald Trump, said on Newsmax's "National Report." He added, "It's important to distinguish between what happened in the past and what we need to do moving forward."
Adams' comments came after a group of House Republicans, led by GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., wrote Walensky to urge her to roll back mask guidelines on children, citing dangers to their mental, emotional, and physical health, reports Yahoo! News.
"There is no question, as we enter the third year of this pandemic, CDC’s guidelines and policies have failed to factor in — let alone prioritize — children’s social, emotional, and educational development," the Republicans wrote to Walensky in a letter obtained first by Fox News Digital. "In fact, CDC is undermining its own credibility as it continues to jeopardize an entire generation’s development."
In the letter, the lawmakers asked Walensky to schedule a briefing with the House Oversight Committee Republicans by Feb. 7 to explain the justification and science behind keeping kids out of schools and requiring face coverings, particularly for children under the age of 2.
The lawmakers also noted in their letter that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization both recommend against young children wearing masks.
Adams, however, commented that with Pfizer requesting shots for children under the age of 5, there may be a situation soon when almost anyone can get a vaccination and be protected from a serious illness.
"It's important that moving forward, we ask ourselves is the benefit of mitigation, surpassing the harm of mitigation and a context when everyone can get a vaccination, so it is appropriate to have this conversation now," Adams said.
He also said he expects the CDC will be changing its mask guidelines soon, especially if vaccines are approved for the youngest children.
"You have to remember that we have lots of people who haven't been able to protect themselves up until now," Adams said. "That's not the case anymore. Soon everyone will be able to get a vaccination and make a decision for themselves."
Further, he said determinations on masks need to be made based on adult vaccination rates and hospitalizations.
"If all those metrics are moving in the right direction or meet a certain threshold, then we shouldn't be masking young kids," Adams said. "I completely agree with that sentiment from the WHO on the CDC's website."
In addition, the omicron coronavirus variant has "changed the game on masking, said Adams.
"Omicron is so much more contagious that cloth face masks simply don't provide much protection," he said. "It provides better than no protection at all, especially when two people are wearing it, but it doesn't provide much protection."
The "real thing" the U.S. should do is follow Europe's lead on promoting adult vaccinations, as the U.S. has had 20% fewer adults vaccinated, and 50% fewer who have gotten booster shots, Adams said.
"Let's get away from the masking for young kids in particular, by everyone else doing their part and protecting ourselves," he said.
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