Dr. Anthony Fauci says he was undergoing surgery when the rest of the White House Coronavirus Task Force decided to loosen up COVID-19 testing guidelines and he was not a part of the controversial move.
Fauci said he was undergoing an operation for polyps on his throat and was sedated when the task force met on Thursday August 20 and discussed an update to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Those guidelines were released Monday and state that people who have come into contact individuals with coronavirus no longer need to get tested, if they don’t have symptoms.
‘I was under general anesthesia in the operating room and was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding the new testing recommendations,’ Fauci said to CNN‘s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Wednesday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was undergoing surgery when the rest of the White House Coronavirus Task Force met on Thursday August 20 to loosen up COVID-19 testing guidelines. Those new guidelines were released Monday
‘I am concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact it is,’ Fauci said, disapproving of the update.
Today there are more than 5.8million cases of COVID-19 in the US and there have been more than 179,000 deaths.
Those new guidelines state that people who have been within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes who do not exhibit symptoms don’t have to get tested unless the have vulnerable health conditions or officials suggest so.
Prior guidelines stated that anyone who had close contact with someone with coronavirus should get tested, whether they exhibit symptoms or not.
Fauci was under general anesthesia and was advised by doctors to avoid speaking to allow his vocal cords to recover.
A senior federal health official said that the changes came from pressure from up top the Trump administration.
‘It’s coming from the top down,’ the source said to CNN.
President Donald Trump, who has been heavily criticized for his handling of the pandemic, has repeatedly denounced widespread testing, claiming that the surge in cases is due to efficient testing and the country should slow down testing instead.
A senior federal health official said that the changes came from pressure from up top the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said the country should slow down testing, atrributing a spike in cases to increased testing efforts
But officials with the Trump administration say that the effort came from the entire Task Force team and Fauci had a hand in helping.
US Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Dr. Brett Giroir said that the guidelines update was discussed and approved by task force members last Thursday.
He said that the updated guidelines originated within the CDC and were written by multiple authors and that he, Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and Dr. Stephen Hahn worked on them.
When asked whether Fauci signed off on the guidelines Wednesday, Giroir said, ‘Yes, all the docs signed off on this before it even got to the task force level.’
‘The new guidelines are a CDC action. As always, guidelines received appropriate attention, consultation and input from task force experts, and I mean the medical and scientific experts,’ Giroir said, also mentioning CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.
‘All the task force experts advise on coronavirus-related matters.’
Today there are more than 5.8million cases of COVID-19 in the US and there have been more than 179,000 deaths
The idea for the new CDC guidelines was first raised by Redfield a month earlier, back when a surge in COVID-19 cases strained the nation’s testing resources and experts were looking for a way to curb excessive testing.
Back then, Redfield suggested the CDC relax on testing guidelines to not waste tests on healthy individuals who do not experience any COVID-19 symptoms, two sources said.
Many health officials were startled by the sudden update this week.
Some raised question as to why the CDC didn’t provide evidence to back the change.
‘I mean, the evidence that I’m aware of as of today is that close to 40% of the cases of the infections are asymptomatic and asymptomatic people transmit the infection,’ Dr. Carlos del Rio, infectious disease specialist and associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine, said.
People line up to receive free COVID Testing at the City of Boston’s pop-up COVID-19 testing site on August 11
A healthcare worker assists a motorist with a nasal swab test at a drive-in coronavirus (COVID-19) testing center in Los Angeles, California on August 11
‘So, not testing – I mean, if you have been in contact with somebody for a few minutes, that’s okay. But if you have been in contact for 15 minutes and that people doesn’t have a mask, I think you need to be tested regardless if you have symptoms or not,’ he added.
Critics of President Donald Trump accused the administration of relaxing its guidelines on testing in order to reduce the number of tests conducted, and in turn reduce the number of positive test results.
‘This is not science. It’s politics. Politics that are dangerous to public health. It’s indefensible,’ said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a tweet.
‘The Trump administration has one COVID strategy: Denial,’ the Democrat continued. ‘If you don’t test people for COVID, there are fewer cases. Now they are forcing the CDC to fall in line with this head-in-the-sand strategy.’
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said he will not abide by the new guidelines.
‘I don’t agree with the new CDC guidance period, full stop, and it’s not the policy in the state of California,’ he said in a news conference.
‘We will not be influenced by that change. We’re influenced by those that are experts in the field that feel very differently.’