It’s actually worse than that. As I discovered when researching COVID giving opportunities for the FRAPPE donor group last year, Johns Hopkins experts explicitly recommended against wearing DIY masks in early March (a position reversed by the end of the month) and were not discouraging people from pressing ahead with travel plans as late as March 6. Sanjay had a phone call with them about a year ago in which he confronted them about these reversals, and they offered a sort of half-hearted defense.
I don’t have any inside information about why CHS made the choices it did, but my naive view is that I agree with your comment that mistakes like these should reflect poorly on CHS. CHS’s core competency may be more in the area of pandemic preparedness than dealing with the pandemic once it’s already here, but their experts were quoted in the media a TON last spring and had significant ability (= responsibility) to shape the public conversation about COVID, particularly in the US. And yet lots and lots of people far less credentialed than CHS epidemiologists had correctly figured out by the first week of March that it was smart to wear a mask and to avoid being around others more than was absolutely necessary. It was left to pop-up initiatives led by non-medical experts like #Masks4All to upend the conventional wisdom about masks that had been propagated by the WHO and CDC. I feel like CHS ought to have been well positioned to challenge the prevailing narrative and was instead getting in the way at a time when it really mattered.
“And yet lots and lots of people far less credentialed than CHS epidemiologists had correctly figured out by the first week of March that it was smart to wear a mask”Not sure how much this is an answer—as I said in a different response, the question isn’t whether CHS was right (much less right about one specific thing,) but whether they did better overall than the other policy-influencing organizations.