The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning Americans that they should be tested for COVID-19 if they are exposed to someone who is infected regardless of whether they’re showing symptoms. This is a reversal of the previous recommendation that testing is unnecessary for someone who doesn’t show symptoms of the disease even if they’ve had close contact with an infected person.
The previously posted and heavily criticized CDC guideline for COVID-19 testing suggested that someone who has close contact with an infected person didn’t ‘necessarily need a test.’ Critics pointed out that it has been known since the early days of the pandemic that COVID-19 can be asymptomatic and that, in many cases, someone can spread the virus for days before developing symptoms.
According to a report from The New York Times published this week, scientists at the CDC strongly disagreed with the guidance due to the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spreading of the virus. The report alleges that the publication of the controversial guidance published on August 24 was politically motivated, putting politics before science.
Only a day after that report was published, the CDC issued a ‘clarification’ on the guidance, now stating on its website that:
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 decision to explicitly state recommended testing for non-symptomatic persons who have had close contact with infected individuals has been praised by public health organizations and experts. Experts continue to recommend the use of face masks, frequent handwashing, and social distancing as key measures to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease COVID-19.