CDC Director Rochelle Walensky appeared to majorly waffle on her agency's controversial guidance to eliminate PCR testing at the end of Covid-19 isolation because the tests can remain positive for up to 12 weeks, long after a person is no longer contagious.
"The big CDC news," said Late Show host Stephen Colbert, is that "y'all have now gone from recommending a 10-day isolation to a five-day isolation. Why the change?"
To which Walensky replied that "probably about 80 to 90 percent of your transmissibility has happened in those first five days," right before and after symptoms appear, "and we really want people to be sure if they're gonna be home, they're going to be home for the right period of time, when they're maximally transmissible."
Colbert then hinted at discord within the Biden administration after Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested the CDC guidance may shift yet again.
"In the UK they went from ten to seven days, but they are also recommending a negative test before considering yourself out of quarantine. Are we going to do that here? Because Dr. Fauci on CNN and ABC suggested that that's under consideration. Is he talkin' out both sides of his mouth over there, and you guys are telling him 'put a cork in it, Tony!'"
Walensky's answer, while confusing, appeared to contradict her agency's new guidelines.
"Deepest respect for Dr. Fauci," Walensky replied. "Obviously, yes. Really important question. The FDA has authorized these tests, and they're terrific tests for what they're authorized for. So the FDA has authorized them for diagnosis, and what they said about these tests is they are best for diagnosis earlier in the disease course.
"Are these the rapid antigen test?" asked Colbert.
"Yes. So if you have access to a test. And you want to do a test at day five. And your symptoms are gone and you're feeling well, then go ahead and do that test. But here's how I would interpret that test. If it's positive, stay home for another five days. If it's negative, I would stay you still really need to wear a mask. You still may have some transmissibility ahead of you. You still should try not to visit grandma. You shouldn't get on an airplane. You should still be pretty careful when you're with other people - by wearing a mask all the time. "
This entire response completely ignores the CDC's justification for eliminating the tests - namely the potential 12 week positive result despite no ability to transmit to others.