Cohen, the former health secretary for North Carolina, was recently tapped by President Joe Biden to be the new head of the CDC. She headed the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for five years before stepping down in January 2022 and becoming an executive at a private healthcare firm in Maryland.
As health secretary, Cohen led North Carolina's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and her time dealing with the outbreak is why she faces scrutiny today. Many of the concerns stem from the disconnection between her words and actions regarding the risk level of the virus and reopening of schools.
The controversy came to light during a congressional hearing in April, where Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, reluctantly admitted to having Cohen's phone number. The hearing focused on the involvement of the teacher union in revising the CDC draft guidance on school re-openings in the fall of 2021.
Recently released documents under the Freedom of Information Act revealed very friendly texts exchanged between Cohen and Weingarten, as well as Becky Pringle – president of the National Education Association – just before the CDC guidance was published.
In one of the texts, Weingarten informed Cohen about an upcoming report that would recommend in-person classes regardless of the level of COVID-19 community transmission, which contradicted their previous conversations. (Related: Lockdown pusher admits: Closing schools during the pandemic was a MISTAKE.)
Cohen also faced criticism for her stance on school re-openings in North Carolina. In July 2020, when Gov. Roy Cooper delayed issuing school reopening guidance for the fall of that year, Cohen also stated that schools had not played a significant role in COVID-19 transmission. She also emphasized that children faced minimal health consequences from the infection.
However, despite her personal views regarding the lack of risks facing students in schools, North Carolina still ranked very low in providing in-person instruction during the 2020 to 2021 academic year.
Cohen countered the district's actions by accusing them of violating state laws and putting children at risk. She highlighted the rising COVID-19 cases among children, which now have the highest rate compared to other age groups in the state, with Union County ranking third. However, she conveniently omitted any mention of hospitalization rates or her previous statements assuring the low risk children face against the virus
Despite the fact that the CDC updated guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or maintain physical distancing in any setting, Cohen continued mandating masks for everyone, including vaccinated schoolchildren.
While claiming that substantial data demonstrates the effectiveness of face masks, she failed to provide any specific references. She had previously recommended that even vaccinated students wear masks for in-person learning. However, the most comprehensive scientific review of high-quality mask research concluded that masks make "little to no difference" in preventing the spread of the virus.
Cohen also admitted to being responsible for maintaining the ban on sporting events and refusing to ease mandates. She also admitted to making decisions based on what her peers in other states with similar authority were doing rather than relying on evidence.
"When she was like, are you going to let them have professional football, I was like 'nope,' and she was like, 'neither are we' … or I'd be like 'so when are you going to think about lightening up on masks,' they were like 'next Monday,' so I'm like 'OK, next Monday,'" said Cohen, referring to a discussion with another health director in a nearby state.
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Watch this video of Cohen joking about how she arbitrarily made up non-scientific COVID restrictions while she was North Carolina's health director.
This video is from the SecureLife channel on Brighteon.com