The CDC's current and past pandemic assessment and intervention frameworks do not include -- even as a recommendation -- any of the harsh, mandatory, business-closing, stay-home orders which have caused serious damages to our economy and our liberties under the current COVID-19 lockdown.

In 2007, the CDC unveiled a new framework for assessing the severity of pandemics and the appropriate responses. Called the Pandemic Severity Index (PSI), this new framework created a five-tier "category" system for assessing the severity of a pandemic (similar in terminology to the "category" system used for hurricanes) based primarily on the lethality of the pandemic. That index was replaced in 2017 by the "Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza." Neither the original (2007) nor the updated (2017) standards recommended anything close to the current lockdown regime taking place in response to COVID-19.

2007 Pandemic Severity Index

The 2007 PSI introduced the now-familiar "flattening the curve" graph:

The document then outlines the PSI based on the lethality of the pandemic:

While the graph and literature discuss "case fatality ratio," the graph is actually more correctly based on "infection fatality rate." The numbers on the graph reference a 30% illness rate, or an infected population of 90 million (30% of U.S. population), and under no situation would there be 90 million confirmed (tested) cases of a pandemic. The "infected" number ("illness rate" in graph) is always an estimate based on testing and analysis.

So based on this "category" system, even the Fauci standard of a 1% fatality rate for COVID would make this a high "Category 3." It's looking more and more like this will be a Category 2, or even possibly Category 1, based on new data from the antibody tests, which indicate a much lower infection fatality rate.

But let's assume this is a "Cat 5" pandemic under the old PSI. Even at this max level, the CDC guidelines do not include in the form of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) anything close to the lockdown that has been imposed by the government under COVID:

For individuals, the most limiting recommendation is "voluntary isolation of ill at home" and "voluntary quarantine of household members in homes." For workplace, there is no business shutdown mentioned. And for schools, up to 12 weeks of closures could be recommended. But remember, in most pandemics, children are aggressively targeted by the virus. In COVID-19, children are almost entirely spared the worst outcomes and even show less propensity to become infected or communicate that infection.

Thus, under the 2007 guidelines, even if we over-inflate the impact of COVID-19 to a "Category 5," the CDC does not recommend anything close to the draconian shutdown/lockdown that is crippling our society.

2017 Update still doesn't have draconian shutdown

Fast forward to the updated 2017 "Standards." This updated version looked at more factors to create a four-quadrant structure, with the most severe being Quadrant D:

The literature then places recent pandemics on the chart:

Based on my review of the guidelines, it looks like COVID currently is a 4-5 on transmissibility, and perhaps a 4 on severity -- borderline high severity to very high severity.

So what do the current 2017 standards say for NPI's (interventions) even for a "very high severity" pandemic? As summarized by a University of Minnesota article:

  • The CDC may recommend voluntary home quarantine for exposed household members of flu patients for up to 3 days.
  • The agency may recommend use of face masks as a "source control measure" for flu patients in crowded or close-contact settings during severe or extreme pandemics.
  • Well persons will not be advised to use face masks except in a few scenarios, such as pregnant women or other vulnerable people in crowded settings or people caring for patients at home.
  • The CDC may recommend preemptive school closures in severe or extreme pandemics, but in moderate pandemics the decision will be left to local authorities.
  • The agency may recommend social distancing steps (for example, that people keep at least 3 feet away from each other) during severe or extreme pandemics.
  • Environmental cleaning is recommended in all settings to eliminate flu viruses on frequently touched surfaces.

And from the CDC literature:

In detail...

Nowhere are the draconian "stay home" orders, the "non-essential" business closures, the shutdown of retail, the requirements to wear masks in public, the use of drones to drive people out of public places, the requirement to show "papers" to be out in public, etc., etc., etc.

Oh yeah, and the social distancing guidelines recommend "3 feet," not 6 feet:

Increasing the distance to at least 3 feet between persons when possible might reduce person-to person transmission. This applies to apparently healthy persons without symptoms. In the event of a very severe or extreme pandemic, this recommended minimal distance between people might be increased.

So why did America and the world so quickly move to the lockdown/shutdown that has decimated our economy and made it very, very difficult to reverse course? 

Maybe we followed the leader. China.

A dictatorial country that has total control over its people and has no Constitution or heritage of civil liberties and is a pure police state. And oh yeah, they've lied to us the entire time.

We followed China off the cliff.


Steve Elliott


Steve Elliott is the co-founder of Grassfire, a 1.5 million member liberty-based citizen network. Steve likes to talk about politics, tech, faith and family.