New York’s governor said that the state will not follow national coronavirus testing guidelines, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed them to recommend that people who have been in close contact with an infected person but do not exhibit symptoms should not get a test.
The CDC changes, which were announced earlier this week, came after repeated complaints by President Donald Trump that the high number of tests being carried out in the US was the reason there were so many confirmed cases.
Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, said on Wednesday that his state would not follow the guidelines, denouncing them as “political propaganda”.
“The only plausible rationale is they want fewer people taking tests because, as the president has said, if we don’t take tests you won’t know that people are Covid-positive and the number of Covid-positive people will come down,” said Mr Cuomo, a high-profile Democrat who has frequently clashed with the Trump administration over its response to the pandemic.
“But it totally violates public health standards and rationale and just fosters his failed policy of denial.”
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the CDC was instructed to change the guidelines by senior people within the Trump administration.
As coronavirus cases in the US have risen to far outstrip any other country in the world, Mr Trump has railed against the perception that his administration has failed to control the virus, blaming the number of tests being done instead.
Mr Trump tweeted in June: “Without testing, or weak testing, we would be showing almost no cases. Testing is a double-edged sword — Makes us look bad, but good to have!!!”
Five days later he told a campaign rally he had asked his officials to slow down testing.
Brett Giroir, the administration’s coronavirus testing tsar, denied on Wednesday that the CDC had come under political pressure to change its guidelines. “There was no weight on the scales by the president or the vice-president or [Health] Secretary [Alex] Azar.
“This was a product produced by the scientific and medical people that was discussed extensively at the task force.”
The CDC did not comment.
Mr Cuomo’s stance is likely to increase tensions between the governor and Mr Trump.
He clashed publicly with the president in the early weeks of the outbreak, during which time New York was at its epicentre. He accused Mr Trump of making “incorrect and grossly uninformed” claims about the number of ventilators going to his state, for example.