Politics Overnight Health Care: CDC reverses controversial testing guidance | Billions more could be needed for vaccine distribution | Study examines danger of in-flight COVID-19 transmission
How the CDC failed public health officials fighting the coronavirus
The CDC should have protected America from coronavirus, but it misled locals as COVID-19 deaths rose. Even supporters call its testing plans a mistake.It was the third week in February. Senior leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeatedly brushed off calls to take COVID-19 more seriously.
Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care.
The CDC reversed its controversial guidance on testing of potentially asymptomatic people. President Trump said he expects enough vaccines to be available for every American by April. And experts warn wildfire smoke could make COVID-19 illness worse.
How Trump let Covid-19 win
Trump’s magical thinking couldn’t beat the coronavirus. America is stuck with the consequences.The US wasn’t able to fully and safely reopen in April. It isn’t able to fully and safely reopen in September.
Let's start with the CDC:
CDC reverses guidance on COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday revised controversial guidance that previously stated people without COVID-19 symptoms don't necessarily need to be tested.
In updated guidance, the agency said: "If you have been in close contact, such as within 6 feet of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 15 minutes and don't have symptoms you need a test."
"Please consult with your healthcare provider or public health official. Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection," the CDC added.
Joe Biden’s plan to beat the coronavirus
Donald Trump botched America’s Covid-19 response. Joe Biden thinks he has a plan to fix it.President Donald Trump has badly botched the response thus far, according to most experts, and the numbers tell the tale: 200,000 Americans are dead. He’s tried to discredit the scientific institutions tasked with managing the response. Millions of people are still out of work. Thousands of businesses have closed that will never reopen.
The agency faced from public health officials, local health departments and members of Congress when it changed its guidance last month to state that people without symptoms "don't necessarily need a test" even if they have had close contact with confirmed cases.
That language was deleted Friday and replaced with new text under a "clarifications" heading.
Why it matters: Local health departments argued not testing contacts of confirmed cases without symptoms would hurt contact tracing efforts. They urged the CDC to reverse the guidance, arguing that leaving it in place would force them to go against CDC advice.
CDC tells Congress it urgently needs $6 billion for vaccine distribution
This could be a problem: The CDC says it needs $6 billion for coronavirus vaccine distribution, but there's no clear path for Congress to enact it.
Fact check: Claim of double standards between COVID-19, swine flu responses is inaccurate
The claim correctly cites Swine flu case counts but is inaccurate on other points, including the response to H1N1.Trump: Biden doesn't know Black voters 'like I do'
The CDC had previously privately informed Congress of the need for more funds, according to congressional aides, but CDC Director Robert Redfield made the request public for the first time at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, calling it "urgent."
"Right now we've leveraged about $600 million, but we do not have the resources to support 64 jurisdictions to get this plan operational, so to me it's an urgency," Redfield said.
"The time is now for us to be able to get those resources out to the state, and we currently don't have those resources," he added.
The problem: The need for vaccine distribution funding raises the stakes for Congress to come together on a broader coronavirus deal. While both parties support the vaccine funding, there is no clear path for enacting it outside of a larger deal, which has been stalled for months.
Trump says enough COVID-19 vaccines will be ready for every American by April
said Friday he expects there will be enough COVID-19 vaccines for every American by April.
"We'll have manufactured at least 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year and likely much more than that," Trump said during a press briefing Friday.
Amid pandemic, confidence in CDC erodes with questions of political interference
Even basic scientific research, like whether to wear a mask in a pandemic, is now being seen through the lens of 2020 election politics.A psychology professor at the University of Hawaii, Barile said the study he'd co-authored -- which found that people are more likely to wear masks if leaders promote a "positive attitude" about them -- was stuck in the federal review process. The agency and the White House, it seemed, were "slow-walking critical research without clear explanation," Barile said.
"Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April."
No COVID-19 vaccine has been proven safe and effective yet by the Food & Drug Administration. But the U.S. has invested in seven potential vaccines, three of which are in phase three trials that will determine safety and effectiveness.
Dr. , the nation's top infectious disease expert, has said the federal government should know by November whether any of the vaccines is safe and effective, with distribution to the general public between the first and third quarters of 2021.
Study examines danger of in-flight COVID-19 transmission
One person with COVID-19 infected 15 others during a long-haul flight from London to Vietnam in early March, according to a new analysis.
The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was released ahead of its final publication in November, is one of the first to analyze the dangers of in-flight transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The researchers identified a 27 year-old woman in business class as the primary source of the outbreak. The woman first developed a sore throat and cough on Feb. 29. She boarded the plane on March 1, and continued to experience those symptoms throughout the 10-hour flight.
Trump's Covid-19 vaccine timeline is seriously wishful thinking. Here's why.
Creating a safe vaccine is just one step. We then need to distribute it to a huge number of Americans.There’s an obvious political reason why Trump — or other lawmakers — might wish to get our hopes up about a vaccine before the November election. But based on my 35 years spent developing drugs for serious medical conditions, including AIDS and sepsis, this is unlikely to happen as quickly as some politicians have told us.
She developed a fever, fatigue and shortness of breath upon arrival and was diagnosed with COVID-19 five days later.
The woman was the only symptomatic person on the flight, but researchers found she had infected 12 people in business class, two passengers in economy, and one flight attendant.
Concerning note: Transmission was clustered in business class, where seats are already more widely spaced than in economy class, and infection spread much further than the existing two-row or six-foot rule recommended for COVID-19 prevention.
Experts warn wildfire smoke could worsen COVID-19
Wildfires that have left parts of California and other Western states with some of the worst air quality in the world are posing a major threat to people with asthma and other underlying health conditions who are already at greater risk of serious COVID-19 complications.
Exposure to wildfire smoke can weaken immune systems and cause respiratory illnesses, and experts worry that combining those effects with the coronavirus could lead to more severe cases, even death.
As the pandemic continues to take its toll, having killed nearly 200,000 people in the U.S., the western part of the country is facing dual crises that could have a compounding effect.
"At the levels of air pollution we're seeing in the Northwest now, it's a matter of concern for everyone," said David Hill, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association.
"So, certainly by itself, we'd be concerned. But with COVID circulating, having worse air quality might make it more likely for them to get infected and have worse disease with COVID-19," he added.
Full reopening, firefighter lawsuit, sidewalk extension: News from around our 50 states
How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every stateStart the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
Why it matters: Wildfires have been burning in Western states for weeks, and at least 34 people have died, according to the Associated Press. When wildfires burn they release pollutants that can worsen air quality, including one known as particulate matter, which inflames the lungs and has also been linked to heart issues. But it could be even more damaging when a disease like COVID-19, which affects the lungs among other organs, is spreading.
What we're reading:
A deal on drug prices undone by White House insistence on 'Trump cards' ()
McMaster professor embroiled in White House controversy over reports he attempted to muzzle scientists ()
Republicans killed the ObamaCare mandate. New data shows it didn't really matter. ()
GOP candidates turn to their families to deflect Democratic attacks on health care ()
State by state
Maryland lab stops use of much-touted coronavirus tests from South Korea after spate of false positive results (
Six months into COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama sees some respite in hospitalizations ()
When COVID testing was scarce, CDC director pulled strings to get Adam Laxalt tested ()
Video: CDC reverses course on testing asymptomatic people for Covid-19, again (MSNBC)
Despair at CDC after Trump influence: 'I have never seen morale this low' .
The Trump administration’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent efforts to meddle with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are taking a substantial toll on the nation’s foremost public health institution. In interviews with half a dozen current and former CDC officials, they described a workforce that has seen its expertise questioned, its findings overturned for political purposes and its effectiveness in combating the pandemic undermined by partisan actors in Washington."I have never seen morale this low. It's just, people are beaten down.