Health Officials Call On US Government to Reverse COVID-19 Test Guidelines

Public health departments throughout the United States are calling on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse changes the federal agency recently made to its public coronavirus testing guidelines.The Big Cities Health Coalition and the National Association of County and City Health Officials, which represent thousands of local departments, sent a letter Friday to the heads of the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requesting that the agencies “pull” the amended advice on virus testing.FILE – A health care worker uses a swab to test a man at a coronavirus disease drive-in testing location in Houston, Texas, Aug. 18, 2020.The organizations called on the agencies to reinstate recommendations that people who have been exposed to the virus be tested even if they are asymptomatic.In the letter, the groups say the CDC’s decision to pull the guidance this week “costs lives and livelihoods” and that “the CDC’s own data suggest that perhaps as many as 40% of COVID-19 cases are attributable to asymptomatic transmission.”CDC Director Robert Redfield responded to criticism over the revised guidelines by saying “testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.”COVID-19 vaccineSeparately, President Donald Trump said Thursday the U.S. will have a vaccination for the coronavirus “before the end of the year or maybe even sooner.”The announcement was part of Trump’s speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination, delivered from the South Lawn of the White House as part of the party’s national convention.FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech as the 2020 Republican presidential nominee during the final event of the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 27, 2020.Experts say vaccines can sometimes take decades to develop, test, and be proven safe before they are administered to patients. However, hope has been high that a concerted international effort will produce an effective vaccine sometime next year.”In recent months our nation and the entire planet has been struck by a new and powerful invisible enemy,” Trump told the South Lawn audience whose mostly mask-less members were not sitting six feet apart, a measure generally practiced to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The president has rarely been seen in public wearing a mask, another practice to help stop the spread of the virus.Cases globallyThe U.S. has at least 5.8 million COVID-19 cases, the most of any country, and roughly one-fifth of the world’s more than 24 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University. Brazil follows the U.S. with 3.7 million cases, and India comes in third with 3.3 million.India said early Friday that it had recorded 77,266 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24-hour period, the highest daily total ever recorded in the South Asian nation.And in France, wearing masks in public in Paris became mandatory for everyone on Friday. The new measure follows a French public health report that more than 6,000 new infections were recorded Thursday, while 5,000 were recorded Wednesday.People wearing protective masks stand at the Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower as France reinforces mask-wearing as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus disease across the country, in Paris, France, Aug. 28, 2020.Spain said all children six years of age and up must wear masks while in school. The announcement comes just days before the beginning of Spain’s school year.In South America, a group of leaders has agreed to share information and coordinate access to any vaccine one of them might develop or acquire.”A joint effort would bring benefits, particularly in terms of access, quantities and guaranteed prices,” Chile’s foreign minister, Andres Allamand, said after Thursday’s virtual meeting of presidents and foreign ministers.”We in Chile are following the evolution of at least five projects and we have been in contact with some of those laboratories and countries specifically to be able to get access to those vaccines at reasonable prices and as quickly as possible,” he said. 

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