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Anthony Fauci was in the operating room under general anesthesia last Thursday when the White House coronavirus task force approved the narrowing of CDC testing recommendations to exclude asymptomatic individuals, according to CNN's Sanjay Gupta.

Why it matters: Fauci, who had vocal cord surgery last week, told Gupta that he is "concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact, it is."

The state of play: The Trump administration's testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir denied reports on Wednesday that top White House officials ordered the CDC to stop recommending testing for asymptomatics who have been exposed to the virus, insisting that the guidelines came from within the agency.

  • “The new guidelines are a CDC action,” Giroir said. "As always, the guidelines received appropriate attention, consultation and input from task force experts, and I mean the medical and scientific experts, including CDC director Redfield."
  • Giroir said that Fauci was among the health experts that worked on the guidance, which was updated on Monday with no public notice.

Between the lines: Experts have said it's important to identify infections before coronavirus symptoms kick in because it's when many individuals are believed to be the most contagious, the New York Times reports.

  • Some models suggest nearly half of transmission events can be traced back to when individuals were still pre-symptomatic.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months — CDC says schools should still universally require masks and physical distancing.
  2. Politics: New York to lift mask mandate for vaccinated people — CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift.
  3. Vaccines: Sanofi, GSK COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials — Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects — 600,000 kids between 12 and 15 have received Pfizer dose since FDA authorization.
  4. Business: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance — Delta to require all new employees be vaccinated — Target, CVS and other stores ease mask requirements after CDC guidance.
  5. World: World's largest vaccine maker expects to resume exports by end of 2021 — Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated Dec 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Highlights from Biden and Harris' first joint interview since the election

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

Politicians come under fire for flouting COVID-19 rules

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Public officials across the U.S. are issuing new stay-at-home orders while urging Americans to practice social distancing, as coronavirus infections surge at an alarming pace.

Yes, but: A growing list of politicians have come under fire for shirking (at times, their own) restrictions and advisories aimed at preventing viral spread.