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Coronavirus: Higgins, Cuomo, Murphy, Lamont oppose new CDC policy

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Thu, Aug 27th 2020 12:50 pm

Congressman Brian Higgins, and governors Andrew Cuomo, Phil Murphy (New Jersey) and Ned Lamont (Connecticut) all have stated their opposition to new guidance issues this week from the Centers for Disease Control.

Higgins says ‘backtracking’ by CDC on testing guidance will lead to a sicker America

Congressman questions administration’s intent

Congressman Higgins, D-NY, is calling for a reversal of what he called the Trump administration’s latest move to limit COVID-19 testing. The congressman’s comments come following changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 testing guidance. The new CDC recommendation says individuals who come into close contact with a person infected with COVID-19 do not necessarily need to be tested themselves.

Higgins said, “Public health guidelines should be based on science, not politics. It’s common sense that the best path to containing a virus outbreak is to identify where it is and to limit exposure to others. The CDC’s own previous guidelines reinforced the importance of widespread testing in stopping or mitigating this pandemic but, as the coronavirus continues to spread, the Trump administration continues to fail the American people. One hundred eighty thousand Americans have already died from COVID-19, and narrowing recommendations on who should be tested will lead to a sicker America and more preventable deaths. The administration’s politically motivated maneuvers are undermining public trust in our medical experts and in our public health institutions, and must be reversed immediately.”

His camp said, “Our nation’s leading infectious disease expert and member of the White House’s own coronavirus task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expressed concerns over the decision, saying that he was not included in the discussion and adding: ‘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.’ "

Higgins joined other members of the House on a letter to the CDC requesting answers on how this decision was made, what analysis was conducted to arrive at this new directive and who, specifically, directed the changes.

The congressman’s camp said, “This week’s shift by the CDC is just the latest action by the Trump administration to slow down testing. A separate guidance narrowed the definition of what must be covered by health insurance companies in regards to COVID-19 testing, no longer requiring coverage for purposes of surveillance or employment. In letters to the departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services and Western New York insurers, Higgins strongly objected to the change that blocks some Western New Yorkers from testing coverage.”

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PL116-139), approved by the House in April, included more than $25 billion in federal funding to ramp up testing efforts with the explicit purpose to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer and expand capacity for COVID-19 testing.

Joint Statement from Cuomo, Murphy & Lamont on Federal Decision to ‘Weaken’ COVID-19 Testing Guidelines

"The CDC has been a consistent, credible and reliable guide for our nation for decades, providing clear and science-based guidance on everything from infectious disease to vaccines. That role is vital to our collective public health and it must continue. This 180-degree reversal of COVID-19 testing guidelines is reckless, and not based on science and has the potential to do long-term damage to the institution's reputation.

"CDC and HHS have not shared their scientific rationale for this change in policy, which substitutes sound science-based public health guidance with the president's misinformation. This abrupt and ill-informed shift threatens the robust testing regimes our states have worked tirelessly to stand up with our federal partners.

"Health experts recommend testing close contacts of individuals with COVID-19 to identify and prevent asymptomatic spread. This type of robust testing by our states has been a key factor in our success so far to flatten the curve in the tri-state area.

"New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will continue to follow the advice of health experts to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and therefore will not be changing our guidance that prioritizes testing for this population."

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