We can do better.

The last month I have really wanted to post remarks on Twitter highlighting the disaster of public health policy we have been dealing with these last three months in response to Omicron. Something to the effect of:

“If you think masks are that inconvenient, then you’ve never really had a serious problem in your life.”

Or things similar out of frustration. Usually, I’ll delete it seconds later, asking myself if this makes sense. Maybe at first glance, I appear sheepish or am victimizing? I will sense it when I step back from what I have written- and delete it, knowing a politician or PR person will want to screenshot it to share or gawk. (It has happened to me a few times with them accidentally sharing it with me.) “Oh no, it’s her again.”

Frankly, there is nothing good to say in a “brand sense” of politics about the last four months of public health work. Yet somehow, thought leaders, politicians who “trust the science” (I have always hated that term), and doctors have misrepresented the science of an airborne virus. Many of the fighting or arguments have been segmented to social media because the attention economy seemingly can have equivalent value as medical and epidemiological task forces and surveys. Remember: Sisolak didn’t consult his medical advisory team when dropping masks.

The whys of why we didn’t increase mitigation during Omicron are political, financial, and psychological. Yet the occurrence of events, in my opinion, is fucking stupid and reminds me of high school project management. Remember the one kid in a group project that would do all the work? That one kid currently represents all epidemiologists, and because of it, we are failing people who need protection the most. It’s not their fault: it’s our collective conduct.

Once upon a time last year, I was an incredibly vulnerable person. I had no immune system, was fighting against losing mobility, and chemotherapy attacked my heart. In addition, I was in isolation for four months for fear of asking for help because I worried about exposure. It is damage that I have spent much time and money on recovering. After emergency surgery around my heart and lungs and before starting chemotherapy, I remember knocking doors for local political leaders. I now wonder what my contribution amounts to and if the voices of the vulnerable register. As the Director of CAP Disability noted:

Assuming Omicron was mild and not accounting for its incredible contagious properties meant this last wave was 17% more deadly than Delta. That is the data, and it points to failure, precisely that of our White House, CDC, and Governors, to respond accordingly and appropriately.

There is no better time than the present to do better.

The obvious question: What has worked? I would point to UC Davis: with continual testing, masking, and sanitization policies recorded less than 5% positivity for those in the university system during the peak of Omicron. It was entirely possible to get closer to this number and the next peak it can be.


As someone who works in analytics- we can use data to show accountability about public health infrastructure and help rebuild the trust lost from hyper-politicization and misinformation. A state or local municipality has an accountability dashboard with a check sheet of tools at schools, DMVs, public hospitals with a list of better air filtering, a stockpile of high-quality masks, and sanitation protocols that can help.

Maybe we can have policy-driven by robust methodology, not just spinning topline numbers hoping favorability in polls improve. The solutions are there and proven by data.