A majority of US states have opposed the Trump administration’s new COVID-19 testing guidelines in an extraordinary reprimand from the nation’s leading disease prevention agency, according to state health officials and public statements verified by Reuters.
At least 33 states continue to recommend testing people who have been exposed to COVID-19 and have no symptoms. This week, guidelines published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that these tests may not be required were dropped. Sixteen states did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and North Dakota said it had not made a decision.
States that are breaking with the federal government include conservative Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona.
Public health experts said a break of this magnitude with the CDC may be unprecedented and show growing distrust of the Trump administration and its response to the pandemic.
“This is an almost complete rebellion against the new guidelines,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The CDC said Monday that people exposed to COVID-19 but not symptomatic “do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable person or your health care provider or state or local health agency recommends you have one.” . “
The CDC had previously recommended testing anyone who has had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. That remains the policy of at least 30 states. Some who have not changed their guidelines said they were studying the CDC guidelines.
Admiral Brett Giroir, the deputy health minister at HHS, said in a statement to Reuters that the guidelines have “been updated to reflect current knowledge and best public health practices and to further emphasize the use of CDC-approved prevention strategies” .
He said the focus will be on screening people with symptoms of COVID-19, those with significant exposure, and those at risk, including asymptomatic people, who are being prioritized for testing by local health officials.
Some heads of state and public health experts accuse the government of using politics, rather than science, to steer their response to the pandemic.
“This 180-degree reversal of COVID-19 testing guidelines is ruthless and non-scientific. It can damage the CDC’s reputation in the long term,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey and New Governors Jersey Connecticut said in a statement it rejects the new CDC guidelines.
Giroir said at a press conference on Wednesday that there was no political pressure from the administration. He said testing asymptomatic patients too early could lead to false negative results and contribute to the spread of the virus.
“There is no point getting tested five to seven days (after infection) because you won’t be positive,” said David Battinelli, chief medical officer at Northwell Health, acknowledging concerns about testing too early. “There is a tremendous amount of unnecessary testing.”
Idaho recommends people exposed to COVID-19 contact their doctor to see if they need testing. It was among those states that did not respond to a request for comment on the CDC guidelines.
Public health officials believe the United States needs to test more frequently, that finding asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 is critical to slow the spread, and that the CDC’s comments could run the risk of preventing necessary tests .
Even before the CDC guidelines, the number of coronavirus tests carried out was declining. The United States tested an average of 675,000 people a day last week, up from a peak of more than 800,000 people a day in late July.
Cases have decreased nationwide for five weeks in a row, but infections are on the rise again in the American Midwest. Four states reported a record one-day increase on Thursday as the US death toll surged over 180,000.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)