Fox News host Tucker Carlson has lambasted an employee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for, among other things, identifying as nonbinary and having a transgender Pride flag in their Twitter profile.
Jo Walker, who wrote a report that included recommendations on which population groups should receive priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, “is not a disinterested scientist” but “a left-wing activist,” Carlson said on Tuesday’s edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight.
The host, infamous for homophobic and transphobic remarks, cited Walker’s display of the trans flag, nonbinary identification, and choice of they/them pronouns (which Carlson did not respect, instead using male pronouns for Walker). Carlson further objected to the fact that Walker’s Twitter profile expressed support for defunding the police and described the U.S. as “occupied land.”
Carlson said employees like Walker are the reason that a CDC committee initially recommended that frontline essential workers receive priority for the vaccine over older adults, as people of color are more heavily represented among essential workers than they are among the elderly. For a variety of reasons, people of color are at higher risk of serious complications or death from COVID-19 than white people.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was criticized for this from across the political spectrum, and the CDC’s final recommendation was that frontline essential workers and people age 75 and older receive equal priority, as this is likely to save more lives of people of all races. They are considered group 1B for vaccine priority, as the CDC had already given first priority (group 1A) to frontline health care workers and nursing home residents and staff, according to the Associated Press.
Those considered frontline essential workers include firefighters and police, teachers, and those who work in key sectors such as grocery stores, the postal service, and mass transit. Another group of essential workers, including those in public utilities, food service, legal and financial jobs, and the media, will be in the third priority group (1C) along with people age 65-74 and those age 16-64 who have high-risk medical conditions.
At any rate, the CDC recommendations are not binding; states will make the final decision on distribution. And there’s no evidence that Walker’s identity or political views influenced the recommendations. The Advocate has sought comment from the CDC and Walker but has not received a response. Walker has now deleted their Twitter account.