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LETTER: CDC needs to have a talk about communication

On Jan. 21, Dr. Bonnie Henry apologized after the B.C. Centre for Disease Control created confusion during the week by repeatedly changing its isolation guidelines.

“It’s my responsibility to communicate that better and I’ll do that in the future,” said Dr. Henry.

Thing is – this is not an isolated incident.

Since the start of the pandemic, the CDC’s updates have created more confusion and controversy than clarity. Just as mask-wearing became the new normal for British Columbians with strict guidelines of what face coverings are suitable, Dr. Henry’s symbol of caution and consideration for others, was to sport a mask on the ‘No List’.

It seems like a missing link sitting in plain sight to better bridge the gap between scientific expertise and public acceptance and awareness, at a time where such gaps have led to tragedy.

Anxiety and fear of hospitalization and death from contagious diseases can be powerful motivators for individual behaviour change up to a certain point. But tapping into that anxiety and fear through targeted public health messaging can backfire when it becomes too much for people to take in or becomes nagging, nanny-state background white noise.

I detest stating this: I would hope that once the pandemic ends, so does Dr. Henry’s tenure.

William Perry