NJ continues testing, ignoring guidelines based on Trump’s ‘misinformation’
The governors of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut said Thursday that their states will continue with their COVID-19 testing programs despite new guidelines released by the White House coronavirus task force this week.
The new guidance says it's not necessary for people who have been in close contact with infected people, but don't feel sick, to get tested. The CDC previously had advised local health departments to test people who have been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes.
The new guidelines, which were posted online by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, left many health experts scratching their heads. Task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he had not been consulted on the change and said he was “worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact it is.”
Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious diseases specialist at Emory University, said that possible explanation for the change is that President Donald Trump simply wants to see case counts drop, and discouraging more people from getting tested is one way to do it.
In a joint statement on Thursday, governors Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Ned Lamont of Connecticut noted that neither the CDC nor the Department of Health and Human Services have "shared their scientific rationale for this change in policy, which substitutes sound science-based public health guidance with the President’s misinformation."
The three Democrats called the "180-degree reversal" by the CDC "reckless" with "the potential to do long-term damage to the institution’s reputation."
The governors said that their states "will continue to follow the advice of health experts to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and therefore will not be changing our guidance that prioritizes testing for this population.”
The governors of California, Washington and Kentucky also have criticized the change.
Dr. Tom Frieden, who was head of the CDC during the Obama administration, said the move follows another recent change: to no longer recommend quarantine for travelers coming from areas where infections are more common.
“Both changes are highly problematic” and need to be better explained, said Frieden, who now is president of Resolve to Save Lives, a nonprofit program that works to prevent epidemics.
Frieden said he, too, believes HHS forced CDC to post the changes. He called it “a sad day” because “CDC is being told what to write on their website."
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