CDC to issue guidance that patients can get coronavirus test with doctor's orders

CDC to issue guidance that patients can get coronavirus test with doctor's orders
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon issue new guidance clarifying that Americans can be tested for the coronavirus subject to a doctor’s orders.

Vice President Pence previewed the guidance during an off-camera briefing with reporters at the White House Tuesday evening, explaining that some local officials were given the false impression that tests could only be administered to patients who were mildly symptomatic.

“We will issue new guidance from the CDC that will make it clear that any Americans can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor’s orders,” Pence said.

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Pence said that the guidance was meant to avoid any “confusion” about the ability of doctors to test individuals for the coronavirus.

CDC Director Robert Redfield told reporters that he expected the guidance to be issued either later Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

The CDC has previously said that people should only be tested if they had serious respiratory illnesses with no obvious cause, had traveled to countries with coronavirus outbreaks or had close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. The CDC had wanted to conserve tests but more are being manufactured this week by a private company. 

Pence also announced that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would issue guidance directing agencies across the federal government “to review internal travel policies and to adhere to State Department advisories with regard to international travel.”

Trump administration officials announced over the weekend that the U.S. would further restrict travel from Iran and increase travel advisories to parts of Italy and South Korea amid the spread of the virus in other countries.

Tuesday evening’s briefing came as the Trump administration withstood scrutiny over delays in tests for the virus. Officials reiterated Tuesday that they expect 1 million tests to be available for use by the end of the week.

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Pence and other officials insisted Tuesday that the threat of the virus remains “low” in the United States but that the situation could quickly change.

“At this time, the threat to any individual American remains low from the coronavirus. That can change rapidly,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters.

“We continue to make significant advances in particular on removing barriers and moving forward on our response activities,” Azar said.

Pence said there are 77 domestic cases of the coronavirus, including nine deaths among those who are elderly or had existing health conditions, and added that 13 states plus New York City have been affect so far by the virus. 

Another 48 Americans repatriated from a cruise ship where there was a coronavirus outbreak also are registered cases.