COVID-19 is airborne. Eating raw cookie dough is self-inflicted. Both can be deadly.

·4 min read

Senate Leader Phil Berger said in an email Thursday that if the CDC doesn’t stop changing its mind on masks wearing, people will stop trusting the agency.

But his statement comes a day after the senator told his campaign’s email distribution list that the agency’s advice on mask wearing should be taken the same way as its advice on eating raw cookie dough: “guidance to be ignored.”

NC GOP Senate Caucus Political Director Dylan Watts called the campaign email subject line a mistake saying the senator didn’t intend to tell people to ignore the CDC but that the email was meant to imply that the agency’s latest guidance is one more thing that people will ignore.

More than 24 hours later, the campaign has not sent an email to that same distribution list clarifying Berger’s stance.

On Thursday, Berger sent a news release from his Senate staff saying that health leaders should encourage and promote vaccination and give people accurate and consistent information about spread; viral load; and fatalities.

But he also doubled down on the topic of cookie dough saying, “CDC offers more consistent guidance on consuming raw cookie dough than on masks. That’s a problem and here’s why: If the CDC erodes its credibility on masks, then it risks eroding its credibility on the far more important message of vaccines.”

Has the CDC been inconsistent on its mask guidelines?

The short answer is no.

In mid-May, the agency said that most vaccinated adults could stop wearing masks in most indoor settings due to a steady decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations because of the COVID-19 vaccines.

But viruses are known to mutate.

Currently, the United States has four main variants of the virus that scientists are tracking: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.

These variants entered the United States in December, January and March, with Delta being the newest.

And Delta is proving to be much more contagious than previous iterations of COVID-19.

NC Health Secretary Mandy Cohen said in a news conference Thursday afternoon that for every person with the Delta variant an average of six more people catch the virus.

After a steady increase in new cases, the CDC reversed course this week asking all Americans, including those who are vaccinated, to mask up indoors.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN earlier this week that the science did not change, the virus did.

How is the Delta virus affecting North Carolina?

Cohen presented data Thursday during a news conference that showed that from late February until the end of June emergency room visits from people with COVID-19-like illnesses had trended downward.

But over the past month, those visits have returned with a steady increase.

She also presented a chart showing the trajectory of new cases since the virus began and said the current increase in cases is more severe than ever before because of the contagiousness of the Delta variant.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have also increased.

“(Hospitalizations) have more than doubled in just two weeks and has been the fastest increase we’ve seen since the pandemic started,” Cohen said.

Are illnesses from eating raw cookie dough and COVID-19 comparable?

No.

COVID-19 is an airborne illness while getting sick from eating raw cookie dough is something that’s self-inflicted.

The FDA published an article that says eating raw dough, of any kind, could be deadly because of the risks of salmonella from raw eggs and E. coli from raw flour.

Salmonella poisoning causes around 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths yearly in the United States, the CDC states.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that E. coli causes 265,000 illnesses and about 100 deaths per year in the United States.

It’s important to note that neither salmonella nor E. coli is exclusive to eating raw cookie dough and can be contracted through other means like holding a turtle or eating uncooked meats.

Some medical websites say that salmonella is transmissible in human contact through saliva, kissing, contact with a person’s poop and dirty utensils.

Likewise, E. coli can spread if a person comes in contact with infected fecal matter from another person and then swallows those germs.

How sick can you get from eating raw cookie dough?

Usually, you’ll have a case of bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain.

But the FDA adds that E. coli can lead to a type of kidney failure, which people under 5, older adults and those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to.

The Mayo Clinic adds that if a person contracts salmonella it could infect their bloodstream causing infections to their heart, brain, spinal cord, bone marrow and blood vessels. It can also lead to reactive arthritis.

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at link.chtbl.com/underthedomenc or wherever you get your podcasts.

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