Controversy and Confusion Rise Amid New CDC Coronavirus Guidelines
Recently the Center for Disease Control (CDC) sneakily updated the COVID-19 testing guidelines to exclude possible asymptomatic carriers who came in contact with someone who tested positive. In this time of corona, the CDC should be a scientifically reliable source for information and recommendations. Yet, the new change in guidelines have left many questioning what the CDC’s true motivations or sources are.
New CDC Guidance Explained
The CDC released new guidance last week on its website which essentially said that no one who is asymptomatic should seek out a coronavirus test. This is a reversal from their previous guidelines which suggested that those who come into contact with a positive case should get tested for coronavirus whether or not they are having symptoms. After the CDC started facing serious backlash from health experts, the director Robert Redfield attempted to clear up confusion on the new guideline. Redfield stated that “Everyone who needs a Covid-19 test can get a test. Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test,” and that those without symptoms “may be considered” for a test. This answer was not sufficient for many who are still confused as to why this sudden change was made and if the CDC made the right decision by making such a statement.
The Controversy Amid the Change
Public health officials are claiming that the CDC’s change in language will only lessen testing for the coronavirus, something that could only lengthen the pandemic in the U.S. Previously the government agency has acknowledged the amount of asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers estimating that 40% of cases go without symptoms and that those without symptoms have a 75% (previously 100%) chance of spreading the coronavirus. Furthermore, studies conducted in South Korea have shown that asymptomatic carriers still contain the same amount of virus for nearly the same amount of time as those with symptoms. This only prompts officials and experts to ask why the CDC would purposefully exclude asymptomatic people from testing. Multiple states have already stated that they will not be adhering to the new guideline including Florida, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Kentucky, and 4 Michigan Health Systems. The American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement expressing concern over the change and asked for the CDC as well as the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release scientific justification for the change. The CDC has attempted to justify the change by saying it was to prioritize testing for frontline workers and those with symptoms. Anonymous federal health officials have also reported that the order to change the guidelines came from “the top-down” suggesting that order came from President Trump, who has made previously incorrect statements on testing. While Brett Giroir of the HHS does acknowledge that the White House Taskforce did edit and review the change, he claims that this was only after officials such as Dr. Fauci worked on it. Dr.Fauci denies ever taking part in any discussion of new recommendations due to his surgery that day.
Although it is not completely clear on who’s to blame for the change in guidelines, what is clear is that public health experts do not believe the change is justified. Officials such as Dr. Fauci believe that the change “will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern,”. This change has already proven to be a source of outrage to public health officials who believe that the new change will have detrimental effects on America’s ability to fight this ongoing pandemic.