The White House Coronavirus Task Force recently updated the testing guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and contrary to previous reports, Dr. Anthony Fauci claims he was not involved in those discussions.
On Wednesday night, CNN's Sanjay Gupta read a statement from Fauci—the nation's leading infectious disease expert—who said he was undergoing surgery at the time of the Aug. 20 meeting, when the task force recommended a controversial change.
"I was under general anesthesia in the operating room last Thursday and was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding these new testing recommendations," Fauci reportedly told Gupta. "I'm concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried they will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact, it is."
The update in question was quietly made on Monday. It reads in part:
If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms: You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.”
Fauci's comments to Gupta conflict with those of Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. According to Politico, Trump administration officials reportedly ordered the task force to stop recommending COVID-19 testing for those who may have been exposed but aren't exhibiting any symptoms. Giroir denied these reports, claiming the updates were approved by the entire task force as well as the CDC director.
"The new guidelines are a CDC action," Giroir said. "As always, the guidelines received appropriate attention, consultation and input from Task Force experts, and I mean the medical and scientific experts, including CDC Director [Robert] Redfield. All the task force experts advise on coronavirus-related matters."
The Department of Health and Human Services has yet to publicly respond to Fauci's statement.
Fauci underwent surgery last week to remove a polyp from one of his vocal cords. According to CNN, physicians have advised the 79-year-old to limit his talking until he has recovered.