The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines this week stating that people who have no symptoms may not need to be tested for COVID-19, even if they have been close to someone diagnosed with the deadly virus.
On Monday, the CDC recommendations were changed to read: “If you have been in close contact (within six feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or state or local public health officials recommend you take one.”
Before its revisions, the CDC suggested testing “for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
CNN is reporting that the change was the “result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration.”
“It’s coming from the top down,” an anonymous White House task member told the news site.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been a leading voice in the fight against coronavirus — which has killed over 180,000 Americans since the pandemic struck U.S. shores — claimed he was in surgery during the August 20th task force meeting when the new guidelines were discussed.
Fauci said that he “was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding the new testing recommendations.”
The doctor, who is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed concerns that the interpretation of the new guidelines will lead many to believe that asymptomatic spread is “not of great concern.” He added, “In fact, it is.”
In June, President Donald Trump pushed to have testing for the virus “slowed down.” He has consistently stated that the high numbers of cases in the United States are because the country has a “high rate” of testing. “We do so much more than other countries it makes us, in a way, look bad but actually we’re doing the right thing.”
The Department of Health and Human Services has said that the new guidelines are focused on “appropriate” testing and not “less” testing. However, asymptomatic people can still transmit the virus to others.
According to Patch, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday in call with reporters that the Trump administration is seeking to manipulate test data leading up to the election. “The president has said, if we don’t take tests, you won’t know that people are COVID positive,” Cuomo said, “and the number of COVID positive people will come down.”
The governor decried the CDC’s guideline updates, characterizing them as “carrying forward with [Trump’s] political agenda.”