FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Gov. Andy Beshear and Dr. Steven Stack, the state's top health official, criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday amidst growing controversy over the agency's release of revised COVID-19 testing guidelines.
The guidelines, published on the CDC website Monday, advised that some people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 do not have to get a test - even if they have come into close contact with an infected person.
"It's reckless," Gov. Beshear said during his daily briefing Wednesday. "It contradicts everything that we know and have learned about the virus. It is inexplicable."
The change on the CDC website, which was first noticed by reporters, stated a person does "not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your healthcare provider or state or local public health official recommend you take one."
"In Kentucky, we're going to still continue doing the right thing," Beshear said. "I believe the CDC is going to change that guidance. It doesn't make any sense at all."
Dr. Stack said he was concerned that people may use this new guidance as an excuse not to get tested.
"We know that as many as 40 percent of people may be walking around and spreading the infection and not have any symptoms or signs," Dr. Stack explained.
The briefing came on the heels of a CNN report that revealed a federal health official said the CDC was pressured "from the top down."
Brett Giroir, the HHS Assistant Secretary and federal testing czar, denied that there was political interference, and told reporters the guidance had been "updated to reflect current evidence and best public health practices."
"I'm not aware of any new data or specific studies that would suggest doing fewer tests makes a difference," said Dr. Erin Cooper, who has treated patients with coronavirus at her practice in Lexington.
Dr. Cooper told LEX 18 News that she was surprised to learn of the revised guidelines, noting that there is scientific consensus that transmission can and does occur in asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people.
"I still think that there's large value in having a test and knowing," she said. "Because if that test comes back positive, then we also have to take the next step and look at their contacts."
When asked if she believed politics had played a role in the updated guidance, Dr. Cooper said, "I hope not."