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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, now director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), removes her mask to speak as Joe Biden announces nominees and appointees to serve on his health and coronavirus response teams during a news conference at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 8, 2020. 

POLITICS: Fauci, Walensky comments raise new concerns on whether science or ‘pushback’ are guiding COVID policies


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New COVID-19 guidance from Dr. Anthony Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky have caused some to question whether public health officials are making decisions based on science or prevailing opinion.

During a Sunday interview with CNN host Dana Bash, Fauci said the CDC may issue a new re-testing recommendation for those who want to leave isolation after five days, even while the country faces a lack of rapid testing kits.

Fauci’s comments came a week after the CDC shortened its recommended isolation and quarantine period for positive COVID-19 individuals from 10 to five days if they have resolving symptoms, after which they are advised to wear masks in public for an additional five days.

The new guidance prompted criticism from some who alleged the CDC’s changing guidance is being influenced by external pressure.

“The Biden Admin CDC has done this nearly every step of the way with Covid,” tweeted Dr. Nicole Saphier. “They put forth a recommendation and within a week change it because of external pressure. If they are following the science, this wouldn’t happen. In 2022 we need less politics and more science.”

“As a result of external political pressure, the CDC and FDA have become compromised and have very little credibility at this point,” Saphier also tweeted.

Fauci also told ABC News host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that “The CDC is very well aware there has been some pushback about that. Looking at it again, there may be an option in that that testing could be a part of that. And I think we’re going to be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC.” 

“So public opinion determines [CDC] policy?? How scientific…” tweeted Tom Borelli, Ph.D. in response to Fauci’s new guidance.

“We already knew that Biden’s CDC took its cues from Dem special interest groups, and now Fauci is basically conceding that under Biden, ‘pushback’ from the left on twitter matters more than what the science says. How is this anything other than putting politics over science?” wrote GOP rapid response director Tommy Pigott.

Last week, Walensky told CNN that the new guidelines, in addition to being guided by the science of how the virus is spreading, were also a result of what public health officials believed people could “tolerate.”

“We have seen relatively low rates of isolation for all of this pandemic. Some science has demonstrated less than a third of people are isolating when they need to. And so we really want to make sure that we had guidance in this moment where we were going to have a lot of disease that could be adhered to, that people were willing to adhere to,” Walensky added.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, now director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), removes her mask to speak as Joe Biden announces nominees and appointees to serve on his health and coronavirus response teams during a news conference at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 8, 2020. 
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Walensky met with pushback from NBC’s Peter Alexander last week regarding her agency’s fluctuating guidance on COVID-19.

On the “Today” show, Alexander asked why Americans should “trust” her and her agency, given all the “mixed messaging.”

Last Tuesday marked the latest of several walk-backs by the CDC since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, admitting its initial estimates about the prevalence of the omicron variant were inaccurate.

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Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.



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