Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

President Donald Trump speaks with Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Robert Redfield during a Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump speaks with Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Robert Redfield during a Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

'We Need Answers Now,' Says Warren After Explosive Reports Indicate Top Trump Officials Ordered Changes to CDC Covid-19 Guidelines

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was in surgery and under general anesthesia when the changes were discussed, warned the new guidance "will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern."

Jake Johnson

After new reporting late Wednesday indicated that abrupt and what experts characterized as dangerously unsound changes to the CDC's Covid-19 testing guidelines were directed by the highest levels of the Trump administration, lawmakers demanded answers and sounded alarm bells over the White House's ongoing politicization of America's public health agencies.

CNN and Politico both reported Wednesday that top Trump administration officials were behind the CDC's decision to stop advising Covid-19 tests for all people who have potentially been exposed to the virus, which has infected nearly six million people and killed more than 179,000 in the United States.

"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."
—Dr. Anthony Fauci

The new guidelines, published on the CDC website Monday, state that people who have been in close contact with someone infected by Covid-19 "do not necessarily need a test" if they don't show symptoms. The CDC, led by Trump appointee Dr. Robert Redfield, did not present evidence justifying the changes.

Citing an anonymous federal health official close to the decision, CNN reported that the "sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration." CNN also first reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was undergoing surgery when the CDC guidance changes were discussed by the White House coronavirus task force.

"I was under general anesthesia in the operating room and was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding the new testing recommendations," Fauci told CNN. "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."

Politico confirmed CNN's reporting on the White House officials' push for changes to the testing guidelines.

"Top Trump administration officials involved with the White House coronavirus task force ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Protection to stop promoting coronavirus testing for most people who have been exposed to the virus but aren't showing symptoms," according to Politico, which cited two unnamed people with knowledge of the process.

In response to news of the central role top Trump administration officials played in directing the changes to CDC testing guidelines, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted that "we need answers."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also responded to the revelations, saying that "the Trump administration doesn't have a plan to fight Covid-19 because it's too busy sabotaging any effort to combat the virus."

"As a result, it's choosing more infections, more deaths, and more economic pain," Wyden wrote.

As Common Dreams previously reported, Trump has publicly expressed support for rolling back Covid-19 testing, falsely blaming virus screenings for the rise in positive cases across the nation.

"We should be shocked that public agencies that are supposed to be serving the public interest have been defiled to meet the president's political or personal goals."
—Deborah Burger, National Nurses United

"I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down, please,'" Trump said during a campaign rally in June. The president doubled down days later after his advisers insisted he was joking.

"I don't kid," Trump told reporters. "By having more tests, we find more cases."

Washington's Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee urged residents of his state to disregard the CDC's latest guidance, tweeting, "If you've been exposed to a confirmed case, get tested" and "remain in quarantine for 14 days after exposure even if you test negative."

"CDC's new guidance would cause Washington to miss thousands of new cases and allow the virus to spread in our communities," Inslee warned.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats, also condemned the new guidelines.

"Let the doctors and scientists do their jobs. Lives are on the line," de Blasio tweeted. "Here in New York City we will follow the actual experts' guidelines, and not politically motivated directives."

Deborah Burger, RN, president of National Nurses United, said in a statement Wednesday that "as a nation, we should be shocked that public agencies that are supposed to be serving the public interest, whether it is regarding contagious disease epidemics, environmental protections, or workplace safety, have been defiled to meet the president's political or personal goals."

"The CDC, at the direction of the Trump Administration, is extending this malfeasance to all patients, and all individuals," Burger added.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

ACLU Demands 'Truly Systemic Overhaul' of US Civilian Harm Policies

"While a serious Defense Department focus on civilian harm is long overdue and welcome, it's unclear that this directive will be enough," says director of the legal group's National Security Project.

Jessica Corbett ·


'This Is Not Over': Alaska Supreme Court Rejects Youth Climate Case

"With the state continuing to undermine their health, safety, and futures," said the plaintiffs' lead counsel, "we will evaluate our next steps and will continue to fight for climate justice."

Jessica Corbett ·


Analysis Finds 'Staggering' Rise in Voter Suppression After GOP Restrictions in Georgia

"This is why we are fighting this new law in court," said one voting rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Egregious': Pennsylvania Court Strikes Down Mail-In Voting Law

The ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the state's Supreme Court and as one voting advocate put it: "The fight's not over yet, folks."

Julia Conley ·


Big Win for Open Internet as Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Law

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit's opinion "a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo