By Will Caraccio
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stood as a beacon of scientific objectivity and pragmatism in a political atmosphere of reckless denial and panic. Providing a steady flow of information regarding the pandemic to a worried public, and setting empirically based guidelines to “flatten the curve,” the CDC has remained wholly uninfluenced by an administration which has systematically underplayed the severity of COVID-19—until now.
In recent weeks, the CDC has begun to drastically alter their COVID-19 guidelines, discounting their previous findings and loosening the strictness of their protocols. To the dismay of health care officials across the nation, the CDC announced in August that individuals who have come into close contact with a COVID-19 carrier for at least 15 minutes “do not necessarily need a test.” This sudden change in federal protocol starkly contrasts with the advice previously given by the organization that “testing is recommended for ALL close contacts of persons with COVID-19 infection.” A number of physicians and public health specialists have expressed great concern over the unnecessary and potentially dangerous change in approach; to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “these recommendations may give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is of not great concern. In fact it is.”
But what is the reason for the unexpected policy change that could potentially result in a major setback in the struggle against Coronavirus? According to an unnamed CDC employee, the order to change the official guidelines is “coming from the top down.” With the White House desperate to downplay the public health nightmare in the U.S. inflicted by the pandemic, it was only a matter of time until the primary disease prevention institution in the country succumbed to the President’s pressure. With four former directors of the CDC penning an editorial in the Washington Post claiming that Trump is “undermining the agency’s ability to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.,” it has become abundantly clear that Trump will do anything to hide the incompetence of his administration in dealing with the global health crisis. In light of this unfolding issue, we must all ask: what is the price of ignorance, and who will pay the grievous cost? My guess? The American people.