Following Committee Action, CDC Reverses Course on Dangerously Inaccurate Coronavirus Testing Guidelines
Washington, D.C. (Sept. 19, 2020) –Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, issued the following statement in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reversing previous unscientific coronavirus testing guidance that was reportedly pushed by Trump Administration political appointees, and reaffirming that people “should get tested” if they come in close contact with someone infected with the virus:
“When the Trump Administration weakened CDC’s public health guidance on coronavirus testing last month, consistent with the President’s desire to ‘slow the testing down’ to hide the true extent of the virus’s spread, I called for the change to be ‘swiftly reversed’ if it was not based on sound science. I am pleased that CDC has now reversed this dangerous and overtly political guidance. As the CDC’s new guidance makes clear, widespread testing of both symptomatic and asymptomatic people who have been exposed to the virus is crucial to containing this pandemic.”
“While this reversal is a positive step, I remain deeply troubled by reports that Trump Administration officials are interfering with CDC’s public health guidelines and suppressing its scientific reports in an effort to downplay the coronavirus crisis. The Select Subcommittee is investigating the Administration’s political interference at CDC so that we can ensure our public health agencies are providing advice based on the best science available—not political calculations.”
In August, CDC abruptly changed its public health guidance on coronavirus testing to assert, contrary to the scientific consensus, that most asymptomatic individuals exposed to a person with the virus do not need to be tested. This contradicted its previous statement that viral testing was appropriate for people with recent or suspected exposure, even if they were asymptomatic.
On August 26, Chairman Clyburn urged the CDC to swiftly reverse its decision to not test asymptomatic individuals.
On September 14, the Select Subcommittee launched an investigation into political interference at CDC by Trump Administration appointees and requested transcribed interviews with several HHS and CDC officials.
On September 16, two political appointees who reportedly played key roles in this political interference left their roles at HHS.
The coronavirus has killed nearly 200,000 Americans since February, with hundreds still dying every day. Bipartisan public health experts have identified widespread testing as critical to stopping the spread of the virus.