COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Resource Center


CDC. Overview of testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Accessed September 18, 2020.

Disclosures: File reports no relevant financial disclosures.
September 18, 2020
2 min read

‘You need a test’: CDC again revises COVID-19 guidance for asymptomatic people


CDC. Overview of testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Accessed September 18, 2020.

Disclosures: File reports no relevant financial disclosures.
You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

The CDC again revised its COVID-19 testing guidance for asymptomatic people, saying definitively that people without symptoms who have been in close contact with an infected person for more than 15 minutes should be tested.

“You need a test,” the guidance now states.

Thomas M. File Jr.

The new language reversed a controversial revision of the guidance published last month that said asymptomatic people “do not necessarily need a test” if they have been in close contact with an infected person.

Originally, the CDC recommended testing for “all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

“The return to a science-based approach to testing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is good news for public health and for our united fight against this pandemic,” Infectious Diseases Society of America President and Infectious Disease News Editorial Board Member Thomas M. File Jr., MD, said in a statement. “We urge officials to support the work of controlling this pandemic by following medical guidance of experts in the field.”

The current CDC guidance lists four recommendations for people who come within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes, including that they should self-isolate for 2 weeks even if they test negative:

  • You need a test. Please consult with your health care provider or public health official. 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. Pending test results, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home and stay separated from household members to the extent possible and use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available. A single negative test does not mean you will remain negative at any time point after that test. Even if you have a negative test, you should still self-isolate for 14 days.
  • If you cannot self-isolate, or you are a critical infrastructure worker that must work, wear a mask, physically distance, avoid crowds and indoor crowded places, wash your hands frequently, and monitor yourself for symptoms.
  • If you live with a person at increased risk of severe illness (for example an elderly person or other individuals with underlying medical conditions), take special precautions in the home to protect that individual according to CDC guidelines.
  • Health care providers in close contact of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection while using recommended personal protective equipment, do not need to be tested

There have been nearly 6.7 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States, including more than 198,000 deaths, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University.