CDC drops controversial testing advice that caused backlash

Grant Boone
September 20, 2020

The New York Times reported on Thursday evening that the guidelines, which state that asymptomatic people need not test for the virus, was uploaded without being properly vetted through scientific review.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported US President Donald Trump's administration posted the contentious testing guidelines to the CDC website against the objections of its scientists.

That includes anyone who has been in close contact with a person who tested positive, the agency said.

If you have been in close contact with an infected person and do not have symptoms, "you need a test", the CDC said in an update to its website Friday.

Under the guidance, it was not necessary to test people with no symptoms of Covid-19 - the potentially fatal disease caused by the virus - even if they had been exposed to the virus.

It was "not consistent with the basic principles of controlling an epidemic,"said Dr. Silvia Chiang, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Brown University who applauded the change announced Friday".

The prior recommendation stated that you "do not necessarily need a test" if asymptomatic but had close contact with an infected person.

Redfield told the Times in a statement that the guidelines were "coordinated in conjunction with the White House Coronavirus Task Force" and "received appropriate attention, consultation and input from task force experts".

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The U.K. has largely opened its economy, including schools - which resumed full, in-person learning at the beginning of the month. His comments came as new confirmed daily cases of coronavirus hit 4,322 - the highest since May 8.

Federal officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, were quick to dismiss the idea that the CDC was strong-armed into the decision.

"I think he made a mistake when he said that". He said the August changes had been "misinterpreted" and were part of an effort to increase engagement by doctors and local health officials in the handling of potential illness clusters.

This snafu is only the latest indication that much of the country's public health response to covid-19 has been co-opted by politically motivated administration officials.

"That policy does not reflect what many people at the CDC feel should be the policy", a U.S. official told the USA newspaper.

The Aug. 24 guidance - which was widely criticized by experts - was posted on the CDC website at a time when public health experts were urging more testing, not less.

"If we can't believe that, then even if there is a safe and effective vaccine, a significant portion of the population will not want to get it", he said.

Dr. Susan Bailey is president of the American Medical Association.

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