GAO finds conflicting positions, a lack of transparencies, and many other issues. The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis had this to say.
“Today’s report from the independent Government Accountability Office confirms that eight months after this deadly virus reached our shores, President Trump is still refusing to implement a coherent national plan to contain the outbreak.
Instead, he has downplayed the threat, cast doubt on the science, and failed to lead — resulting in the death of 200,000 Americans. I agree with GAO that we need ‘timely and concerted actions’ to contain this virus, and I urge the Administration to heed GAO’s nonpartisan recommendations and finally show some leadership to protect Americans’ lives.”
Today’s GAO reports includes the following findings, among many others:
The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has been calling on the Trump Administration to show stronger federal leadership to defeat the coronavirus for more than four months.
The director of GAO, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, previously testified before the Select Subcommittee on the need to improve the federal government’s coronavirus response on June 26, 2020.
Several weeks ago, the US CDC published controversial SARS-CoV-2 testing guidance indicating that individuals with known exposure to COVID-19 cases “do not necessarily need” to be tested. Since then, information has emerged in various media reports that the guidance was drafted by officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House Coronavirus Task Force and did not undergo the traditional CDC review process before being posted to the CDC website.
On Friday, the CDC published another update that now recommends testing for all individuals with known exposure to COVID-19 cases. The update is very clear regarding individuals who have been within 6 feet of someone with known SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 15 minutes: “You need a test.” Additionally, the update recommends that individuals with known exposure self-quarantine/isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether their test result is positive or negative.
In the weeks since the previous update, a number of experts have called for this kind change to the testing guidance, particularly in light of the current understanding of the role of asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission in the pandemic. Notably, we are not aware of any new studies or information since the previous change that significantly affects our understanding of asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission, so it appears that the most recent update is a correction to the previous guidance.
On Friday, the US CDC updated its guidance regarding SARS-CoV-2 transmission, in particular with respect to droplet and airborne/aerosol transmission routes. The update emphasized the role of airborne/aerosol transmission, noting that aerosols are believed to “be the main way the virus spreads” and that “airborne particles” can remain suspended in the air for prolonged periods of time and travel distances beyond 6 feet.
This represented a major shift in how the CDC communicated regarding respiratory transmission of SARS-CoV-2, which previously focused on “droplet” transmission (ie, via larger respiratory particles). This morning, the CDC issued a statement that the information updated on Friday was a draft version of guidance that was published prematurely. The website was updated again today to revert to the previous iteration of the guidance (ie, that emphasizes droplet transmission as the primary route).*
The current website on SARS-CoV-2 transmission notes that the CDC is in the process of updating its guidance and that new language will be published “once [the] review process has been completed.” If the CDC shifts its focus to airborne/aerosol transmission as the primary concern for SARS-CoV-2, it is unclear if associated recommendations regarding mask use (which are less or minimally effective at reducing aerosols compared to larger droplets), physical distancing, face shields, or other solid barriers, or other mitigation measures will change as well
*This is the now removed guidance posted. The best evidence does and has supported the idea this is spread by aerosol. That’s the only way many superspreader incidents made sense.
Here’s simple guidance, Twitter-style: