Shifting CDC Guidelines Expose an Unequal System

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Last month, a controversial shift took place on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. They had indicated that people who had been exposed to coronavirus, but had no symptoms, did not need to be tested. Now, they have reversed that and are confirming once again that all people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 should be tested. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are hesitant to believe in the accuracy of the information being transmitted from official sources. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CDC has been spreading misguiding information about the use of masks, testing accuracy, numbers of cases, and much more. 

While it’s easy to blame a lot of this on the disastrous response by the Trump administration, we have to recognize that there is a broader issue with the handling of this crisis – the one of resources, and the choices that those in power are making about those resources. During the first months of the pandemic, the CDC was advising against the use of masks, arguing that only healthcare providers needed to wear them. This had a lot more to do with access to personal protective equipment than with accurate science. The same goes for the reckless recommendations and improper use of testing. If we systemically prioritized the production of testing supplies, we wouldn’t have to play lottery with who should get tested and who shouldn’t. 

What we need is information, resources, and control over these resources, not an organization of scientists and healthcare professionals whose ability to protect people is limited by the priorities of an unjust system.