Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo did not mince words Thursday while speaking about the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent modification of coronavirus testing guidelines, calling the recommendation that people without Covid-19 symptoms not get tested even if they have been exposed to the virus “dumbfounding” and “really bad advice.”
The C.D.C. director subsequently walked back the new recommendations somewhat, though the modified guidelines remained on the C.D.C.’s website. Critics charged that the Trump administration quietly directed the change to reduce testing and therefore suppress the number of positive diagnoses of Covid-19 infection, which reached 5.84 million in the United States.
In a conference call with journalists on Thursday, the governor accused the Trump administration of disseminating “propaganda rather than public health advice. . . . I believe it’s political,” he said, “and we’re not following it in the State of New York.
As he spoke, the governor’s press office issued a statement in which he, with Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, addressed the decision to change testing guidelines. “This abrupt and ill-informed shift threatens the robust testing regimes our states have worked tirelessly to stand up with our federal partners,” it said. The statement reiterated Mr. Cuomo’s pledge to disregard the federal recommendation.
“I believe this federal government has forfeited its credibility writ large,” the governor said on Thursday. “I don’t believe this president has credibility. I don’t believe the federal health experts have any credibility. They have proven to be incompetent and political, which is a damning combination for a federal health official.” Starting with the understanding that the coronavirus came to New York via Europe, and not China, Mr. Cuomo repeatedly accused the Trump administration of incompetence. “They were incompetent when they missed the virus coming to New York,” he said. “They were incompetent when they said only people with symptoms can spread it. They were incompetent when they said if you get infected you can’t get reinfected. They were incompetent when they said children can’t spread it.”
“There is no justification for this C.D.C. guidance except manifesting what the president wanted them to do. The president said if we test less we will have fewer cases. He said it repeatedly. He’s denied Covid from Day 1. How do you now further his agenda? Test less. And you know what will happen . . . the number of cases will apparently go down.” He called such a policy dangerous. “They’re endangering health in furthering their politics.”
The governor said that 0.9 percent of the 83,000 state residents tested for Covid-19 infection on Wednesday were positive, the 20th consecutive day on which the positive rate was less than 1 percent. Four residents died on Wednesday, and 490 were hospitalized. “Very good news,” he said of those statistics. “Again, congratulations to New Yorkers. Stay with it, stay with it, stay with it.”
He referred to a “caution flag” that he was “going to fly a little higher” regarding Western New York, where the infection rate is 2 percent. Eight testing sites, three of them in Buffalo, would be deployed with equipment that can provide results within an hour, he said.
The State Liquor Authority and state police “have supplemented actions where local police have not been doing significant compliance efforts,” he said. The joint S.L.A.-police task force visited 1,000 establishments on Wednesday. It found violations at just two, he said, both in the borough of Queens.