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C.D.C. Coronavirus Testing Guidance Was Posted Against Scientists’ Objections

  • September 17, 2020

A new version of the testing guidance, expected to be posted Friday, has also not been cleared by the C.D.C.’s usual internal review for scientific documents and is being revised by officials at Health and Human Services, according to a federal official who was not authorized to speak to reporters about the matter.

Similarly, a document, arguing for “the importance of reopening schools,” was also dropped into the C.D.C. website by the Department of Health and Human Services in July and is sharply out of step with the C.D.C.’s usual neutral and scientific tone, the officials said.

The information comes mere days after revelations that political appointees at H.H.S. meddled with the C.D.C.’s vaunted weekly reports on scientific research.

“The idea that someone at H.H.S. would write guidelines and have it posted under the C.D.C. banner is absolutely chilling,” said Dr. Richard Besser, who served as acting director at the Centers for Disease Control in 2009.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the agency during the Obama administration, said, “H.H.S. and the White House writing scientifically inaccurate statements such as ‘don’t test all contacts’ on C.D.C.’s website is like someone vandalizing a national monument with graffiti.”

The vast majority of C.D.C. documents are still carefully created and vetted and are valuable to the public, but having politically motivated messages mixed in with public health recommendations undermines the institution, Dr. Frieden said. “The graffiti makes the whole monument look pretty bad,” he said.

The current guidelines on testing, posted on Aug. 24, said people without symptoms “do not necessarily need a test” even if they have been in close contact with an infected person for more than 15 minutes. Public health experts roundly criticized the C.D.C. for that stance, saying it would undermine efforts to contain the virus.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/17/health/coronavirus-testing-cdc.html

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