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CDC drops controversial testing advice that caused backlash

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

U.S. health officials are dropping a controversial piece of coronavirus guidance and telling all those who have been in close contact with infected people to get tested.

Posted: Sep 18, 2020 2:00 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials on Friday dropped a controversial piece of coronavirus guidance and said anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should get tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention essentially returned to its previous testing guidance, getting rid of language posted last month that said people didn’t need to get tested if they didn't feel sick. That change had set off a rash of criticism from health experts who couldn't fathom why the nation's top public health agency would say such a thing amid the pandemic.

It was "not consistent with the basic principles of controlling an epidemic,”said Dr. Silvia Chiang, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Brown University who applauded the change announced Friday.

The CDC now says anyone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes should get a test. In a statement, the agency called the changes a “clarification” that was needed “due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.”

Agency officials declined additional comment.

Health officials were evasive about why they had made the change in August, and some outside observers speculated it was forced on the CDC by political appointees within the Trump administration.

At the time, administration officials said the language originated at the CDC but the decision came out of meetings of the White House coronavirus task force. Dr. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, said many federal leaders outside the agency were involved in “lots of editing, lots of input.” He said it was difficult to attribute the final language to any one source.

The New York Times, citing internal federal documents and unnamed sources, on Thursday reported that the guidance was placed on the CDC’s website over the objections of agency scientists.

Public health experts have noted that testing the contacts of infected people is a core element of efforts to keep outbreaks in check, and that a large percentage of those infected with the coronavirus exhibit no COVID-19 symptoms.

The CDC’s chief, Dr. Robert Redfield, issued a statement shortly after the controversy erupted that did little to clarify why the change was deemed necessary. The main intent seemed to be to assure state health officials that they could continue to recommend that all close contacts be tested if they felt that was wisest, despite the website language that said it was not necessary.

During a U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday, Redfield continued to defend the language that was dropped Friday. He said the August changes had been “misinterpreted” and were part of an effort to increase engagement by doctors and local health officials in the handling of potential illness clusters.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119336

Reported Deaths: 3328
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8135180
DeSoto742280
Harrison556687
Jackson491790
Rankin417186
Madison389494
Lee370882
Forrest314179
Jones299984
Washington2667100
Lauderdale2639135
Lafayette259143
Lamar235940
Oktibbeha206656
Bolivar206279
Neshoba1894111
Lowndes183262
Leflore174188
Panola173441
Sunflower166550
Warren157156
Monroe155474
Pontotoc152820
Marshall151831
Lincoln146759
Pike141256
Copiah140437
Scott129029
Coahoma127037
Union126425
Yazoo125435
Simpson124950
Tate124839
Grenada123940
Itawamba119828
Pearl River118860
Leake117842
Holmes115460
Adams110645
Prentiss110420
Alcorn106112
Wayne103522
George103320
Covington100129
Marion97244
Tippah96225
Newton88428
Hancock88329
Chickasaw87529
Winston87021
Tallahatchie86426
Tishomingo83341
Attala81127
Clarke78553
Clay71822
Jasper70217
Walthall64927
Calhoun63813
Smith60816
Noxubee60417
Yalobusha57016
Montgomery56923
Lawrence56214
Claiborne54216
Tunica53917
Perry53423
Carroll51512
Stone50614
Greene48218
Humphreys46817
Amite43513
Jefferson Davis42613
Quitman4246
Webster38313
Benton37011
Wilkinson34321
Kemper33515
Sharkey29215
Jefferson28410
Franklin2533
Choctaw2106
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 162720

Reported Deaths: 2735
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson24088384
Mobile17166319
Tuscaloosa10641142
Montgomery10576205
Madison961998
Shelby766067
Baldwin688871
Lee666965
Calhoun480663
Marshall450051
Etowah444553
Morgan442835
Houston426535
DeKalb357929
Elmore329258
St. Clair313843
Limestone300333
Walker290293
Talladega277737
Cullman271925
Lauderdale243743
Jackson228218
Autauga214131
Colbert212532
Franklin210732
Blount203925
Russell19993
Chilton192632
Dallas189427
Dale186252
Coffee185111
Covington178729
Escambia176031
Clarke139117
Tallapoosa138587
Chambers138147
Pike137014
Marion111831
Barbour10569
Marengo105322
Butler102041
Geneva9597
Winston95313
Pickens90018
Lawrence89933
Bibb86615
Randolph85316
Hale78330
Cherokee76915
Clay76712
Washington75912
Henry7366
Lowndes72328
Monroe66310
Bullock65117
Crenshaw61630
Fayette60413
Perry6026
Cleburne5819
Conecuh57313
Wilcox57212
Macon55020
Lamar5255
Sumter48721
Choctaw39512
Greene34616
Coosa2193
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