Follow the Science, Not the Politics

Follow the Science, Not the Politics
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The refrain of “follow the science” has been ubiquitous to the politics of the Coronavirus. Unfortunately, the idea of following science – a good idea – quickly became, in too many instances, an overtly partisan, self-interest protecting trope.

For many politicians, union leaders, and special-interest lobbyists and advocates, Covid-19 became a means to an end. Offering up falsehoods and half-truths – conflating facts with fears – came to be acceptable in some political/advocacy quarters if it meant getting what you wanted. Science be damned for a good political outcome.

Special interest groups – think how the teachers unions actively fought to keep children out of the classroom or how a union provision was secretly slipped into a Covid-19 relief package – leveraged the pandemic to advance themselves at the expense of the general public. Isn’t it true that political leaders look better when they claim to be “following the science” as opposed to admitting they are in bed with the unions?

What about union leaders who purposefully spread misinformation to push a narrow-minded political agenda? Since the beginning of the pandemic (and contrary to the science) the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) president Marc Perrone has falsely claimed that grocery stores were unsafe. While union leaders were creating a sense of panic and uncertainty about going out to buy food and groceries, the FDA was trying to reassure the American people that there was no evidence – i.e., no science – of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the Coronavirus. However, the science did not matter if it got in the way of the UFCW’s preferred narrative.

Unions play a critical role in the public square. Fighting for fairness and workers’ protections is key to a thriving economy. What’s good for workers is, ultimately, good for consumers and employers.  However, when union leaders take advantage of people’s fears and purposefully misdirect and confuse the public discourse, every American is negatively impacted.

Regrettably, the UFCW is at it again – i.e., promoting fear over science for political gain. Just in the past several days, the UFCW, which represents over 835,000 grocery store employees, cautioned against following the CDC guidance on mask requirements for vaccinated shoppers and employees. UFCW represents workers at Albertsons, Ahold, CVS, Kroger, and other major retailers across the country. Why stir up more fear contrary to all the science – and over a year’s worth of evidence and data – just as Americans begin to end the long lockdowns?

You see, for over a year (and in direct opposition to “following the science”), the UFCW’s Marc Perrone has falsely claimed that grocery stores were unsafe and consequently has demanded “Hazard Pay.” To his chagrin, the facts do not line up with his political narrative, so Mr. Perrone is demanding that we ignore the facts. If his false claims and demands cause a scare that leads to fewer people getting vaccinated, it doesn’t matter (to him). The ‘Ends Justify the Means’ for the UFCW.  

As reported by CNN, data shows that interest in getting the Covid-19 vaccination increased right after Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced that vaccinated people could take off their masks. Facts should matter, especially when combating a deadly virus.

Here’s an important truth: since the CDC issued its new guidelines on mask wearing, more Americans want to get vaccinated. So, here is another important fact: by promoting fear over science, the UFCW is hurting efforts to get more Americans vaccinated. And this latest UFCW fear campaign comes after retailers implemented myriad costly precautions, made new hires, and offered pay increases to many front-line grocery workers over the past year.

Covid-19 lockdowns and health protocols changed how we shopped. Still, even with these changes, America’s grocery stores have been innovative and sensitive by improving and adapting how they serve their customers.

American grocers, like many in the private sector, stepped up and invested billions to make stores safe for their customers and staff. Since the start of the pandemic, grocers have also made hundreds of thousands of new hires – many of which were furloughed by their previous employer.

Retailers across America made adjustments and investments based on the best science; and consumers and workers are the better for it. In contrast, the UFCW deals in false narratives to advance its own political agenda.  

Marc Perrone and the UFCW are standing crosswise from all the facts, the science, and the public health community. What’s more, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has publicly announced that it agrees with the updated CDC guidance. Remember, facts matter – OSHA’s function is to ensure that American workers have a safe environment in which to work.

Who should we believe: the FDA, the CDC, OSHA, the science, the data, the facts – i.e., the truth; or should we accept Marc Perrone’s false narrative as the truth? As for me, I’m following the science.

Jerry Rogers is the editor of RealClearHealth and the host of the 'Jerry Rogers Show' on WBAL NewsRadio. 

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