CDC changes COVID-19 testing recommendations, again

Published 4:39 pm Friday, September 25, 2020

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The Centers for Disease Control changed testing guidance for those who have come in contact with those with coronavirus, but who do not have symptoms.

The new language is a change from changes made last month.

The change encourages that those who have been in contact with infected people be tested for COVID-19.

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“Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC said in a Sept. 18 clarification. “Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested.”

Viral testing is now recommended to diagnose acute infection for both patients with symptoms and no symptoms.

Anyone who has been within six feet of a person with coronavirus infection for at least 15 minutes should get tested.

“In areas where there are a small number of new cases and limited spread, your public health department may request a small number of asymptomatic ‘healthy people’ to be tested,” the guidance says. “If there is significant spread of the virus in your community, your public health department may request significant numbers of asymptomatic ‘healthy people’ to be tested in order to help stop the spread of the virus.”

This is a stark contrast to the CDC’s Aug. 24 guidance in which it said those who did not have symptoms did not need to get tested unless your health was vulnerable or your health care provider recommended it.

The change was criticized by health care officials.