Sunday, April 21, 2024


“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.”

— William Wilberforce


The CDC Changed Its COVID Risk Formula. The Results Are Stunning.

COVID risk formula

To understand why the CDC made the change, don’t look to science. Look to public choice theory.

On Feb. 25, 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made its expected announcement that it was updating its framework to monitor and contain COVID-19.

“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation with more tools to protect ourselves in our communities from COVID, like vaccination, boosters, broader access to testing, availability of high quality masks, accessibility to new treatments, and improved ventilation,” said CDC Director Rochelle Paula Walensky.

Most media headlines focused on the CDC’s relaxed mask guidelines, which advised that most Americans could ditch masks. How the CDC arrived at this conclusion has received little scrutiny, however.

As many people likely noticed, the CDC changed its mask guidance even though COVID cases and COVID mortality remain high. As of Mar. 1, daily new cases stood at roughly 60,000 based on its seven-day rolling average, which is significantly higher than last summer and virtually identical to one year ago. Meanwhile, about 1,600 Americans continue to die each day of COVID, according to government data, a figure that is, again, exponentially higher than last summer and similar to a year earlier.

Walensky explained the healthy agency’s reasoning in her call with reporters.

“With widespread population immunity, the overall risk of severe disease is now generally lower,” Dr. Walensky said, according to the transcript. “Now, as the virus continues to circulate in our communities, we must focus our metrics beyond just cases in the community and direct our efforts toward protecting people at high risk for severe illness and preventing COVID from overwhelming our hospitals and our healthcare systems.”

There are two takeaways here.

The first is that  Dr. Walensky’s call to direct efforts “toward protecting people at high risk for severe illness” sounds a bit like the Focused Protection strategy many public health experts and epidemiologists have been advocating all along, some of whom were labeled “fringe” scientists by the government’s top infectious disease bureaucrats.

Second, it’s worth examining how Dr. Walensky reached this conclusion. During the call, Dr. Greta Massetti of the CDC noted that “70 percent of Americans are in areas with low or medium COVID-19 community levels.”

Just days before, however, CDC data showed the vast majority of U.S. counties were suffering from high transmission. Then, virtually overnight, most of the U.S. suddenly was in the low or medium category.

Massetti explains the CDC simply changed the formula it used to measure community transmission, or “updated metrics in this framework,” as she says.

“A community’s COVID-19level is determined by a combination of three pieces of information,” Dr. Massetti explained, “new hospitalizations for COVID-19, current hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients or hospital capacity, and new COVID -9 cases.”

By simply changing its formula to include hospitalizations and hospital capacity, the CDC took the vast majority of the U.S. from a state of high community transmission to low or moderate. The color red is also conspicuously absent.

Many people likely are not angry that the CDC changed its COVID risk formula. The changes are likely going to allow most Americans to resume life in a somewhat normal fashion again, without being forced to show vaccine passports to eat in a restaurant or wear a mask to go to yoga class or run to the grocery store.

Numerous surveys show this increasingly is what Americans want.

A recent Yahoo! News/YouGov poll showed that 46 percent of respondents believed Americans should “learn to live with” the virus and “get back to normal,” while only 43 percent said, “we need to do more to vaccinate, wear masks and test.”

An Echelon Insights poll showed an even stronger inclination to stop restrictions, with 55 percent of voters saying that COVID should be “treated as an endemic disease that will never fully go away,” compared to just 38 percent of voters who said COVID should be “treated as a public health emergency.”

Meanwhile, a Monmouth University poll found that 70 percent of Americans agreed with this statement: “it’s time we accept COVID is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives.” The same poll also showed sharp drops in support for vaccine mandates, social distancing, and mask mandates.

New York Times writer Nate Cohn observed something important about the recent polling and the American mood.

“The [polling] results are especially striking at a time when coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and even deaths are near record highs,” Cohn wrote in February. “Indeed, the same polls showed that the public’s concern about the virus increased during the Omicron wave. But in a telling indication of the public’s attitudes toward the pandemic, greater worry about the virus has not translated to greater support for measures to stop its spread.”

The CDC’s sudden and radical change to its COVID risk formula appears to be a response to this change in mood.

Many will contend that this is not how “science” is supposed to work, and they’d be correct. But pandemic policies were never “scientific” because science can never tell us what we should or must do.

“[T]here is no such thing as a scientific ought,” the economist Ludwig von Mises observed, echoing a famous argument by philosopher David Hume. “Science is competent to establish what is.”

Pandemic policies were created by public health officials and politicians. And public choice theory—a field of economics pioneered by the Nobel Prize-winning economist James M. Buchanan—tells us these people make decisions based on incentives just like everyone else.

As I’ve previously explained, early in the pandemic, the incentive for most public officials was clear: take every precaution necessary to avoid being blamed for COVID deaths—regardless of the efficacy or damage of the policies.

“It’s important to remember that politics, above all else, is about self preservation. And imposing government restrictions that don’t work and cause serious harms is a better political strategy for most politicians than telling people to act responsibly, wash hands, maintain a prudent distance, and avoid touching your face,” I wrote in 2020. “So if you’re wondering why our world has begun to resemble a Joseph Heller or Kafka novel where orders and action seem arbitrary, senseless, and counterintuitive, look to public choice theory.”

Social distancing and masking are not more effective today than they were two years ago. Nor are they less effective. The basic science of non-pharmaceutical interventions remains the same, even if some contextual factors of the pandemic have changed (new variants, the presence of vaccines, etc.).

The primary change is the appetite for non-pharmaceutical interventions. Americans have grown tired of them, and this above all else is likely what prompted the CDC to change its COVID risk formula, which virtually overnight took the vast majority of the country from a state of high community transmission to low or moderate community transmission—even though cases and mortality remain high.

The scary color of red is now gone completely from the CDC’s graphics. And all but a handful of Democrats at [this year’s] State of the Union address appeared with faces bare indoors in a crowded Capitol building.

To understand why and how it happened, don’t look to science. Look to public choice theory.

Fortunately, many countries around the world—including the United KingdomDenmark, and the Czech Republic—are beginning to see the error and injustice of these coercive measures.

This article was reprinted with the author’s permission. It was originally published by the Foundation for Economic Education. Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune.

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12 Responses

  1. We should ask the CDC to produce risk maps for each month of the pandemic based on the new risk formula. It will likely show that risk was low throughout the “pandemic”
    Then ask for an apology

  2. COVID is NOT here to stay. That virus died off long ago. What idiot with even a basic understanding of virus believes that COVID is still alive?? Continuing to push this worthless shot now is like giving people a flu vaccine from 5 years ago. It has already been proven it does not stop you from gettin COVID or from spreading it and NO it does not stop death or severe symptoms. WAKE THE HECK UP. The CDC-NIH-HHS-FDA are all owned by big pharma. They are no longer about health but about sickness and MONEY. Masks do nothing. PROVEN. Social distancing……no proof that this works either. 6′, 3′, 10’…..were is the science that proves this works? There is plenty of REAL science that proves it does not work. This is all about fear, control, money and depopulation.

  3. The utterly useless CDC and FDA have been altering their game plan to protect big pharma at all costs…even that of millions of lives. These people working for these agencies are soulless and in the bag for payoffs and bribes.

  4. You know what ends pandemics??? Election season. The polls numbers are down and, all of a sudden, those in power are changing their tunes. Don’t fall for their BS; and certainly keep in mind what they did to this country when November comes.

  5. So its now “follow the public choice theory” vs follow the “two weeks to flatten the curve” and every stupid non-scientific public health policy that followed.

  6. I’m an RN. Was fortunate to have been at ground zero and had covid in March of 2020. What a nothingburger. It got my almost dead patients on hospice. Really. You think I haven’t worked with death and viruses? Perhaps not the hospital nurses. Don’t ask them- they’d throw interventions at a corpse. If you don’t know what kills people and what death looks like, don’t speak to this. Those who don’t know are the ones we’ve been asking for two years. It’s amazing. I had delta last November. Another nothingburger. Are these people serious? Who’s getting so sick they’re hospitalized? The obese, low vitamin D (goes hand in hand), high blood sugar, HTN, heart disease, ESRD, some COPD. End stage, age, poor immune health. That’s every virus. They’re at risk for all of it and they didn’t know. And what could we have done? Brought their immune systems up to speed, encouraged weight loss, supplemented them, encouraged healthful lifestyle. It would have saved lives. Of course there was ivermectin. I’ve seen it save lives.
    We didn’t want lives saved. We wanted them to take the poison injection. Why do I say that? I’ve seen more harmed from the shot than covid. You think I took it? HELL NO.
    They can come for me. I left TWO jobs over this. I’ll lose it all, they will never inject me over some virus that I was never at risk for. I don’t share one single risk factor.
    Imagine if we’d told everyone there was a risk group.

    1. Whoa! Thank you….thank you for coming forward and telling us what you have been though. We people outside of the health field knew it was like this but for me I still had that question back in the depths if my brain. Even though my husband and I both had covid twice. We are older and try our best to stay healthy and take our vitamins. We have seen our freinds and families lives change after the death shot. Best to you.

  7. When are you going to recognize that Mega-Gram doses of Vitamin C are extremely effective for preventative, (and in larger doses and/or Intravenous Doses) for treatment of Influenza, SARS, and Coronavirus!
    Check out this link [ ttps:// ]
    Check out the 56,000+ Peer-reviewed papers on PubMed here [ ]
    And check this Public Announcement from the World President of the International Society of Orthomolecular Medicine (ISOM) dated 3rd March 2020. He announces that China, Japan and American Hospitals are using Vitamin C to treat and prevent COVID-19. Note also that Shanghai Govt advised actual doses for treatment and prevention! [ ]
    In 2010 my wife and I cleared up H1N1 Swine Flu using Oral doses of 30,000 mg per day (in divided doses), and the new Lyposomal/Lypospheric actually build on themselves so that 4 x 1000mg dose together is roughly equivalent to 12,000 -18,000 mg Intravenously (Refer to Primal Panacea by Dr Thomas Levy MD JD)

  8. Stop paying the hospitals bonuses for Covid-19 diagnoses and allow off label treatments like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin by all physicians and nurse practitioners!

  9. Someone needs to be held accountable for the harm that’s been done. The children who’ve been traumatized and the suicides lockdowns caused. The deaths, the disabilities, and for destroying our faith in our healthcare system.
    The WEF and WHO need to be held accountable too.

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