The New Yorker: “…the People’s C.D.C.: a ragtag coalition of academics, doctors, activists, and artists who believe that the government has left them to fend for themselves against COVID-19. As governments, schools, and businesses have scaled back their COVID precautions, the members of the People’s C.D.C. have made it their mission to distribute information about the pandemic—what they see as real information, as opposed to what’s circulated by the actual C.D.C. They believe the C.D.C.’s data and guidelines have been distorted by powerful forces with vested interests in keeping people at work and keeping anxieties about the pandemic down. “The public has a right to a sound reading of the data that’s not influenced by politics and big business,” Fullilove said. No one is in charge of the People’s C.D.C., and no one’s expertise is valued more than anyone else’s. The problems of “the pandemic and its response are rooted in hierarchical organizations,” Mary Jirmanus Saba, a filmmaker and one of the volunteers, told me. Roughly forty people come to each weekly meeting, but many more are involved. (This spring, after a few of the group’s organizers published a manifesto of sorts in the Guardian, several thousand interested people reached out, Fullilove said.) The group sends out a weekly Weather Report—put together by a team composed, in part, of doctors and epidemiologists—summarizing data about transmission rates, new variants, and death rates. They’ve published explainers on testing, masks, and ventilation, among other topics, typically with a call to action: call the White House, call your congressperson, demand free tests and treatment for all. On their Web site, they recently posted a guide for safer gatherings, which recommends that all events be held outdoors with universal, high-grade masking. The organization has nearly twenty thousand followers on Instagram, and it prides itself as a resource for various groups, including people who are immunocompromised and want to find a way to protect themselves and activists who are trying to lobby their local government for more COVID restrictions. Although the group has been scathing in its critiques of the C.D.C., it has received support from respected institutions in the public-health world. It has also received blue-chip funding from organizations such as the Kresge Foundation, which focusses on expanding opportunities in American cities, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, one of the most influential health-focussed philanthropies in America, which gave the group a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. As it happens, Robert Wood Johnson’s C.E.O., Richard E. Besser, is a former acting director of the C.D.C.”
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