CDC Suddenly Changes Testing Guidelines, Leaving Health Experts Baffled

Trump, CDC, testing, reversal, coronavirus

In a quiet reversal, the CDC has changed its testing guidelines for coronavirus. This change from the White House virus task force comes amid scientific evidence of the importance of testing in tracking the virus’s spread and making sure the outbreak does not worsen. 

What’s the change?

The CDC’s website site was changed to say: “If you have been in close contact (within 6 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.”

Previous guidelines stated that one should get tested if they were within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes, and had a “recent known or suspected exposure.” 

Just last month CDC Director Robert Redfield stated, “Anyone who thinks they may be infected — independent of symptoms — should get a test.” In June, Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir said, “The only way we will be able to understand who has the disease, who is infected and can pass it, and to do contact tracing, is to test appropriately, smartly, and as many as we can.”

When the decision was made to change the testing guidelines on the CDC’s site, Dr. Anthony Fauci was under anesthesia undergoing surgery and was unable to offer his approval.

Fauci stated that he “worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact it is.” 

Governors and health experts speak out 

Health organizations, as well as state governors, have spoken out against the new guidelines. Governor Gavin Newsom of California and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York have said that they will not adopt these new guidelines, but instead still encourage testing. “We will not be influenced by that change,” said Governor Newsom. “We’re influenced by folks that are experts in the field who feel very differently.” 

Since as much as 40 percent of people do not show symptoms, and are still able to transmit the virus to others, this change is baffling public health experts. 

Experts worry this decision will cause new spikes in the virus. Organizations that have come out strongly against the change include:

  • The American Medical Association
  • The Association of American Medical Colleges
  • The Infectious Diseases Society of America
  • The HIV Medicine Association

Why the change?

Reasons for the change could be due to a shortage in testing supplies. Another factor could be that in light of the upcoming election, Donald Trump wants to see the case numbers drop. Testing only sick people, however, will reveal a higher COVID-19 infection rate.

Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir denied that the President had any part in the change, stating that there was “no direction from President Trump, the Vice President, or the [HHS] Secretary about what we need to do when.” 

The CDC has also recently changed their guidelines to no longer recommend quarantine for travelers from virus hotspot areas.

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