Lifestyle

Health Experts Are Confused By The CDC's New Guidelines For COVID Testing

Health Experts Are Confused By The CDC's New Guidelines For COVID Testing
LEREXIS/Getty

Health experts don’t agree with CDC’s new guidelines to limit coronavirus testing

Apropos of nothing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its COVID-19 testing guidance to say that if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you don’t necessarily need to get tested yourself if you aren’t showing any symptoms, which is a full 180 from their previous guideline that stated that testing was appropriate for anyone who had come in contact with an infected individual, even if they weren’t showing any symptoms. Unfortunately, the CDC’s newest guideline is leaving health experts and doctors scratching their heads.

So under this new guidance, if you found out that your coworker — who you might come in contact with on a daily basis — has COVID-19 — the CDC is like, nahhh you don’t really need to get tested. It’s perplexing to say the least. Why wouldn’t you want to get tested to find out if you’re an asymptomatic carrier?

A federal health official told CNN that this sudden change on testing protocols came from pressure from the Trump administration to do less testing overall, and as we all know, Trump continues to make “jokes” about how our country does too much testing and lamented earlier this summer that “we do so much more [testing] than other countries it makes us, in a way, look bad.”

Whatever the reason for the CDC’s new policy of testing, it’s not sitting well with health experts and local elected officials.

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, told CNN that “I’m concerned that these recommendations suggest someone who has had substantial exposure to a person with Covid-19 now doesn’t need to get tested. This is key to contact tracing, especially given that up to 50% of all transmission is due to people who do not have symptoms. One wonders why these guidelines were changed — is it to justify continued deficit of testing?”

Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the CDC, did not mince words when he tweeted, “If an asymptomatic contact tests positive, their contacts can be identified, warned, and quarantined. Not testing asymptomatic contacts allows Covid to spread. The CDC guidance is indefensible. No matter who wrote it and got it posted on the CDC site, it needs to be changed.”

The American Medical Association released a statement on the subject and said, “Months into this pandemic, we know COVID-19 is spread by asymptomatic people. Suggesting that people without symptoms, who have known exposure to COVID-positive individuals, do not need testing is a recipe for community spread and more spikes in coronavirus.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom point-blank refused to enforce the CDC’s new guidelines and stated that California (which already has the most COVID-19 cases of any in the country) would do even more COVID-19 testing.

In the meantime, mask up and stay safe.