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Tell VP Pence: We need more COVID-19 testing, not less

250+ organizations signed on to a letter to Vice President Pence, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, urging a reversal of the recent revisions in CDC guidelines around COVID testing. In mid-September, the CDC changed the recommendations.

C.D.C. Reverses Testing Guidelines

August 28, 2020

Mike Pence, Vice President
White House Coronavirus Task Force
Office of the Vice President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear Vice President Pence,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we write to express our serious concerns with the recent change to testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),[1] which diminishes the importance of testing asymptomatic individuals who were exposed to COVID-19.  We believe the revision does not reflect the best available science and the best interest of the public’s health and has resulted in confusion among public health and medical professionals and the public. We ask the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reverse the revision.

By CDC’s own estimation, about 40 percent of infections are asymptomatic,[2] meaning people who do not know they are infected are a significant source of transmission. Identifying individuals infected with COVID-19 – even if they are asymptomatic – is critical to support appropriate isolation and quarantine measures, and identification of contacts, to limit spread, and to provide the comprehensive view of community spread needed to inform effective public health responses. Testing of asymptomatic individuals may also be critical for certain high-risk workplaces, such as in nursing homes, and to support safe reopening of schools.  By downplaying the importance of testing for asymptomatic individuals, especially those who have been exposed to the virus, these guidelines could precipitate further community spread.  We are further concerned that changes to the testing guidelines could reduce insurance coverage for COVID-19 tests by incorrectly calling into question the medical appropriateness of testing on asymptomatic individuals.

In a moment when we are continuing to see COVID-19 surges in hot spots across the country and a desire to safely open schools and businesses, we need more testing, not less.  The decision may delay the ability of communities to safely reopen and extend the social and economic toll of the pandemic on our communities. Given the shortages in testing supplies in personnel, we support prioritizing testing for symptomatic individuals. However, our goal as a nation should be to expand testing capacity to allow for testing of all recommended individuals,[3] including asymptomatic people who have been in close contact with an infected individual.  The solution to testing shortages is not to limit the number of people who are tested but to expand the availability of tests.

The foundation of public confidence in the national response to COVID-19 must include the protection of the CDC’s widely recognized and respected independence and scientific integrity. As recently as July 22, CDC guidance clearly recommended testing for close contacts of individuals with COVID-19 and stressed the importance of identifying and quarantining contacts.  The scientific basis for changes in recommendations must be clearly and transparently documented.

COVID-19 has killed over 170,000 Americans and has had a devastating toll on our economy and the welfare of our citizens. Only by continuing to do the hard work of containing the pandemic through robust and comprehensive testing can we succeed in ending it. We urge you to reconsider this revision.

Sincerely,

Adventist Health

Advocates for Better Children’s Diets

African American Health Alliance

AIDS Action Baltimore

AIDS Alabama

The AIDS Institute

AIDS United

Alabama Regional Medical Services

Alamut Pharmacognosy, LLC

All Youth Access, LLC

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of HIV Medicine

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Academy of Pediatrics, Hawaii Chapter

American Association on Health and Disability

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Council on Exercise

American Heart Association

American Kidney Fund

American Lung Association

American Medical Women’s Association

American Physical Therapy Association

American Public Health Association

American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

American Society for Microbiology

American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)

American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene

American Thoracic Society

Amida Care

Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens

Arizona Council of Human Service Providers

Arthritis Foundation

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of Public Health Laboratories

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

AVAC

Avem Community Health Strategies

Babies, Birth and Breastfeeding

Berkeley Media Studies Group

Big Cities Health Coalition

Biophysical Society

Black Women’s Health Imperative

The Boulevard of Chicago

Brandywine Health Foundation

California Colorectal Cancer Coalition (C4)

California School Nurses Organization

CAMI Health

Campesinos Sin Fronteras

Care Under One Roof Consulting

Catholic Charities / MLLTCO Program

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton

Catholic Health Association of the United States

Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE)

Center for Health and Learning

The Center for Public Health and Justice

Central California Alliance for Health

Central Valley Health Policy Institute, Fresno State University

Ceres Community Project

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

ChangeLab Solutions

Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy

Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin

Chronic Disease Coalition

Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials

Colorado Public Health Association

Colorado School Medicaid Consortium

Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS)

Community Health Councils

Community Memorial Health System

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

DCT LiveWell

Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington

Dona Ana Wellness Institute

Dorchester County Health Department

Eau Claire City-County Health Department

El Cajon Collaborative

El Centro Comunal Latino

Endocrine Society

Enlace Chicago

Epidemiology Section of the American Public Health Association

Epilepsy Foundation

Essex Passaic Wellness Coalition

Exceptional Family Center

Families USA

Family Health Outcomes Project, Univ. of California, San Francisco

The Fenway Institute

The Foundation for Sustainable Communities

The Gerontological Society of America

Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice

Global Liver Institute

Granny’s Haven

Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health

Green Thumb A V Youth Program

Grey Medical Advocate, LLC

Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center

Health Foundation of South Florida

Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Inc.

Health Promotion Strategies LLC

Health Resources in Action

Health Systems Consulting

HealthHIV

Healthy Schools Campaign

Healthy Weight Partnership Inc.

HearTHealth

Heartland Alliance

Hep Free Hawaii

Hill Nutrition Consulting LLC

HIV Dental Alliance

HIV Medicine Association

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

Holy Cross Hospital

The Homeless Alliance, Inc.

HoneySuckle Lactation

Howard Brown Health

The Immunization Partnership

Immunize Colorado

Impetus – Let’s Get Started LLC

Infectious Diseases Society of America

InsightFormation, Inc.

Johnson County Public Health – Iowa

Just God Academy

L.A. Care Health Plan

Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center

Lakeshore Foundation

Lee County Health Department

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Linn County Public Health

Long Beach Gray Panthers

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health

Louisiana Public Health Institute

Macoupin County Public Health Department

Maine Public Health Association

March of Dimes

The Maryland Public Health Association

Mary Magdalene Community Service

Massachusetts Public Health Association

Mat-Su Health Foundation

Mended Hearts & Mended Little Hearts

Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Michigan Association of Local Public Health

MLE Consulting, LLC

Mono County Health Department

Morris Heights Health Center

MPHI

Muscular Dystrophy Association

NASTAD

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Association of Local Boards of Health

National Association of State Offices of Minority Health

National Coalition for LGBT Health

National Coalition of STD Directors

National Families in Action

National Health Council

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

National Network of Public Health Institutes

National Nurse-Led Care Consortium

National Working Positive Coalition

Natividad Family Medicine Residency Program

Natural Health Options

Neighborhood Health Center of WNY

New Jersey Public Health Association

New York State Public Health Association

NMAC

North Carolina AIDS Action Network

Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region

The Nourished Principles, LLC

NOVA Scripts Central

Obesity Action Coalition

Obesity Medicine Association

The Obesity Society

OCHIN

Office & Professional Employees International Union

Oregon Public Health Association

Oregon Public Health Institute

OSDH

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CSULB

Pacific Island Health Officers Association

Paras and Associates

Peggy Lillis Foundation

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Planned Parenthood

Prescribed RxN

Prevent Blindness

Prevention Access Campaign

Prevention Institute

Professional Data Analysts

Public Citizen

Public Health Foundation

Public Health Institute

Public Health Solutions

Rare Kids Network

Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness GWU

Region Nine Housing Corporation

Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies

Respiratory Health Association

San Fernando Community Hospital and San Fernando Community Health Center

San Francisco AIDS Foundation

San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility

SANIPLAN

Schacht & Associates

Social Welfare Board of the County of Buchanan

Society for Children Orphaned By AIDS (SOCOBA)

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Society of Behavioral Medicine

Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education

Southern AIDS Coalition

Tougaloo College/Delta HealthPartners

Town of Norwood, Public Health Department

Township of North Bergen, Health Department

Training Resources Network, Inc.

Trans Empowerment Project

Treatment Action Group

Trust for America’s Health

Two Sides of the Brain, LLC

UMASS Lowell – The New England Consortium (TNEC)

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

University of Washington Department of Global Health

Unrestricted Fit

Vermont Public Health Institute

Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials

Washington State Department of Health

Washington State Public Health Association

WelCore Health, LLC

West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

West Virginia Rural Health Association

Westport Weston Health District

Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards

Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation

WKF Fund

 

 

 

 


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Aug 24, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/testing-overview.html.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios. July 10, 2020.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html

[3] Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelines on the Diagnosis of COVID-19. May 6, 2020.
https://www.idsociety.org/practice-guideline/covid-19-guideline-diagnostics/

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