CDC: Ignoring Science, Appeasing the Trump Administration

Trump standing with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, left, and Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, right.

As numbers of new U.S. infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to remain high, as U.S schools reopen and workers are called back into work, and as second waves of infection have begun to show up internationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) abruptly changed its COVID-19 guidelines and is recommending less testing in the U.S.

The CDC has now issued guidelines saying that:

“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…”

This came as a huge shock to medical and public health experts across the country because these new guidelines will mean fewer people with a known exposure to the virus will get tested. This is the exact opposite of what experts have been recommending for months, and it completely undermines any attempts to get outbreaks under control.

Immediately in response to the CDC’s announcement of the new guidelines, the American Medical Association issued a formal response claiming that the new recommendations are nothing but “a recipe for community spread and more spikes in coronavirus.”

The recommendations to the CDC for the new change came straight from the Trump administration’s White House Coronavirus Task Force. When challenged about the new guidelines, Brett Giroir, the administration’s coronavirus testing czar, confirmed that the recommendations did come from the task force, and said that all members of the task force were part of the discussion and stand behind the new recommendations.

But it turns out, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, was undergoing surgery during the final discussions and did not know that a final decision was being made. After the CDC announced the new changes, Fauci told CNN that he did not agree with the new recommendation because it could send “the wrong message” and “will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern” when “in fact, it is.”

The only things that will decrease due to the CDC’s new guidelines are not the number of infections or hospitalizations or deaths – it’s the number of people getting tested and the number of reported positive cases. This is exactly what the Trump administration wants: for the number of reported cases to go down.

There is nothing in the new recommendations that instruct those who have been exposed to the virus but have no symptoms to stay at home and isolate for 14 days. The only recommendation is to monitor whether symptoms develop. But if people who have been exposed to the virus are asymptomatic and do not get tested, then they will be much more likely to go about their lives normally and infect many more people.

This is not neglect, nor ignorance, nor scientific disagreement. This is absolutely inhuman. The result of the Trump administration’s pressure to get the CDC to issue this change is undeniable: it will lead to more deaths. There’s a word for actions that knowingly lead to the death of innocent people: murder.

With any luck, the health departments of states and counties will ignore these completely vicious new guidelines.