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Friday, August 28, 2020

Sleeze. Utter sleeze

Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff

Going Under: Potential Side Effects of General Anesthesia - MedShadow
Trump finally figures out how to get Fauci out of the way
On Tuesday, the CDC abruptly reversed itself on earlier statements and revised testing guidelines to suggest that those who were not showing symptoms of COVID-19 did not need to be tested. 

The statement seemed more than simply bizarre, but overtly dangerous, as:

Testing levels in the United States are still very far short of the rates experts have said are necessary to accurately describe and control the pandemic

Rates of positive tests in the United States have been moving upward in many states, with states like Florida and Texas showing double-digit rates of positive tests.

Evidence has long indicated that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 can not only pass along the disease, but do so more effectively that those with obvious symptoms.

Why would the CDC deliberately make testing worse at a time when rates of testing were both already inadequate and declining?

By Wednesday, it was clear that the change was made because pressure was applied directly to CDC Director Robert Redfield by the White House coronavirus task force. Only … not the entire task force.

Because the most incredible—and despicable—part of the whole story may be that the action was taken when task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, was under general anesthesia in an operating room.

The remaining members of the task force literally waited until Fauci was unconscious before making the change, and the “evidence” they’ve offered for the switch appears to be no evidence at all.

Fauci told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta that he is, "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."

Evidence from even the early months of the pandemic has indicated that patients with little to no symptoms have a viral load in their nasal passages similar to that of patients showing moderate or severe symptoms.

That means that these patients can pass along the disease at least as well as others. And because asymptomatic carriers may be unaware that they have the disease, and not displaying symptoms that cause others to distance themselves, they end up passing COVID-19 to others more effectively than do those with symptoms.

Multiple disease clusters, including some of the most extensive and deadly, have been traced back to presence of a single, asymptomatic source.

The evidence presented to back up the change made by the CDC is … nothing. Redfield provided CNN with a statement saying that the updated guidelines “received appropriate attention, consultation and input from task force experts," which does not include from Fauci—who denied being present at any discussion of this change. 

But no one appears to be even trying to provide a shred of evidence to support the reversal.

Some healthcare pundits have suggested that the revised strategy could be considered valid, if everyone who knew they had been exposed went into self-isolation for 14 days. 

However, there is no mention of self-isolation in the new guidelines, and these same guidelines make it extremely likely that people will not know when they have been exposed. 

There is absolutely no way in which the revised guidelines help communities to determine the extent of infection, or help individuals to know if they have been exposed. They are in every way worse than the previous guidelines, and promote ignorance and invalid assumptions.

Less testing, and especially less testing of exposed people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, is just about the worst step that could be taken to control the pandemic in the United States.

But of course, that is the point. Donald Trump has been insisting for months that America’s problem is that it does too much testing and that if there were fewer tests, there would be fewer cases of disease.

This infantile “if I can’t see it, it’s not there” attitude is being reinforced at the RNC, where speaker after speaker has treated the pandemic not only as something that Trump handled well, but as something that’s already past. Reducing testing will give Trump what he wants—fewer positive tests. At a cost measured in lives.

The Republican Party recognizes that to win in November, they have to convince America that 185,000 dead is a win, that it’s safe to send kids back to school, and that Trump has wrestled COVID-19 to the ground without having to leave the golf course. Republican states had already been helping out by drastically lowering their rates of testing.

Now the CDC is trying to make that seem acceptable—without providing a single reason for the change, or disguising the fact that this is a blatantly political decision which overrides what’s best for public health.