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CDC Director Robert Redfield attempted Thursday to clarify a set of controversial changes to the agency’s Covid-19 testing guidelines.

At issue are a set of guidelines released on Monday that say that people without symptoms who have come into contact with someone with Covid-19 do not necessarily need to be tested. Earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said that “testing was recommended” for the same group.

Redfield’s comments Thursday softened the change. He said testing “may be considered” for asymptomatic contacts of people who have confirmed or probable cases of Covid-19. The guidelines, he said, were intended to place “an emphasis” on testing people with symptoms, as well as people in long-term care facilities and nursing homes and people who may be particularly vulnerable to the infection.

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The modified guidelines sparked a significant backlash. The absence of evidence supporting the change puzzled public health experts. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the guidelines would not be adopted in California; in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called them “indefensible.” And Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters that he was undergoing surgery when the guidelines were approved last week — contradicting Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, who said Fauci and others on the task force had approved the final version.

“Everyone who needs a Covid-19 test can get a test. Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test,” Redfield said Thursday.

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Those comments echoed statements that Giroir made Wednesday during a conference call with reporters.

“There are going to be areas that public health officials say, ‘We want to test a lot of asymptomatic people because we have spread or we have an increase in positivity.’ We want to support that,” Giroir said.

“That is a whole different situation than someone waking up in a place where there’s a 1% prevalence and saying I want to get tested today tomorrow and the next day,” he said. “That’s really not indicated.”

  • Clearly the White House wants less testing, so less cases of covid 19 will be reported. This will give Trump the ability to boast of less cases going into the election. The reality is Covid 19 will spread by asymptomatic persons and harder to contact trace. Yes this will kill people. The CDC has lost it’s credibility.

  • He is doing right . He is correcting mistakes done earlier. Test, test, test is really waste, waste,waste.

  • “Dr.” Redfield should be ashamed of himself. He has forgotten that he is a licensed physician and is using his medical license to be a political sycophant. Apparently, he has also misquoted Dr. Fauci which is fraud. He should be investigated by his medical licensing boards(Maryland and Virginia) and have the dignity to resign. As a physician, I am ashamed of him.

    • when prevalance is small like 1 percent to 10 percent a test which has high specificity of even 99 percent produces large number of false positives reports which results in panic and wrong cause of death if by chance positive tested individual dies. This step to reduce testing should have been taken long ago. Test should be limited only to people showing signs of SARI only.

  • This Administration is definitely out to kill us. They are so incompetent it is almost beyond words

    • True. This madness is cause of real suffering. If I have tested positive then still I am not sure that I am having covid as large number of test are false positive. If I am tested negative then still I am not sure that I am not false negative. If I am negative today that doesn’t mean I will remain negative tomorrow and later and it ridiculous and counterproductive to do test daily. Test should be done if clinically required .

  • We need all these duds to resign. Hahn at least came back and corrected the record. Is Redfield a doc? We should complain to the board which licenses him of he is!

  • together with Hahn, they are the poster dudes of how to have a brilliant career in science neither being good scientists nor having scientific moral integrity.
    And sadly, it is much more common that it should, rather the norm actually.

  • In an urgent novel virus pandemic, new therapies that are shown to be low toxicity and without evidence of dangerous side effects should be made conditionally available, under a physician’s control, with patient voluntary consent. Isn’t this the point of “right to try”? My older brother’s life was saved long ago as an infant with a scarlet fever infection, by the trial use of an unapproved drug under study … penicillin. Thank God for the courageous, intelligent physician who was capable of recognizing risk vs. reward in a critical situation, where he had no effective approved alternative.

    • May I observe that there is no linkage between reducing the deployment of diagnostic testing, and the experimental use of a novel treatment – one approved by USP in 1944. I am happy for your elder brother, but this comment probably belongs with a vaccine story.

  • Dr. Redfield sadly has lost all credibility. He should resign in protest to Trump’s pressure or speak out to save his reputation. When people don’t trust the CDC, we’ve got big problems.

  • So, the CDC joins the FDA in losing all credibility for responding to this pandemic and instead shows itself to be responding primarily to the Cult of Trump — otherwise known as RINOs.

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