Dr. Robert Redfield, the controversial and embattled Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday slightly walked back guidance his agency had published on Monday that dramatically reversed months-long policy on coronavirus testing.
That new guidance decreed that even those who have come in close contact with people infected with coronavirus should not be tested unless they were showing symptoms. President Donald Trump has been trying for months to have fewer coronavirus tests performed.
Experts assailed the new policy, with one saying it "will kill" Americans.
The walk back was nuanced. CNBC described Redfield's remarks as "defending" the guidance released earlier this week.
On Monday the CDC said those those who "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...do not necessarily need a test."
On Thursday Redfield massage the policy to say for those who have been exposed, “testing may be considered.”
It's a small but important – for the Trump- administration – change, because it keeps the decision to test in the hands of medical professionals, which means fewer Americans will get tested, achieving Trump's goal.
The decision to change the policy came from the top of the Trump White House, CNN reported Wednesday.
On Thursday, Redfield was careful to toe Trump's line, even saying – falsely – that "Everyone who needs a Covid-19 test, can get a test."
The Hill notes that Trump is achieving his goal of less testing.
"After reaching a peak of nearly a million new tests a month ago, the number of tests conducted on a daily basis has declined to fewer than 700,000 over the last four days, according to data maintained by the Covid Tracking Project, an independent group of researchers."