COVID-19 Resource Center
COVID-19 Resource Center
Perspective from Amesh A. Adalja, MD
Source/Disclosures
Source:

CDC. Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/testing-overview.html. Accessed August 26, 2020.

Disclosures: Giroir reports no relevant financial disclosures.
August 26, 2020
2 min read
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CDC relaxes COVID-19 testing guidelines for asymptomatic people

Perspective from Amesh A. Adalja, MD
Source/Disclosures
Source:

CDC. Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/testing-overview.html. Accessed August 26, 2020.

Disclosures: Giroir reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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(Editor’s note: The CDC has reversed this revision and now recommends again that asymptomatic people who have been in close contact with an infected person get tested. You can read more here.)

The CDC updated its COVID-19 testing guidance to say that people who have come in close contact with an infected patient but remain asymptomatic “do not necessarily need a test.”

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

The updated guidance lists three recommendations for those who come within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes:

  • You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or state or local public health officials recommend you take one.
  • You should monitor yourself for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, you should evaluate yourself under the considerations set forth above.
  • You should strictly adhere to CDC mitigation protocols, especially if you are interacting with vulnerable individuals. You should adhere to CDC guidelines to protect vulnerable individuals with whom you live.

In a press conference addressing the change, Adm. Brett P. Giroir, MD, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, said the goal is not to test fewer people but to “get appropriate testing.”

“There will be more asymptomatic testing in areas where it’s needed, and hopefully less where it’s not needed,” he said. “When this goes away completely, we obviously don’t need many tests anymore.”

Giroir said many people had input on the guidance, including himself and White House advisors Anthony S. Fauci, MD, and Deborah Birx, MD, “but it was a CDC product with lots of editing, lots of input, probably over about a month.”

In a statement issued days after the guidance was changed, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, used different language, saying that “testing may be considered” for any individual who comes into close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19.

“Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get a test,” Redfield said. “Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test; the key is to engage the needed public health community in the decision with the appropriate follow-up action.”

Giroir refuted multiple media reports that the CDC guidance was changed as a result of pressure from the White House.

“There was no weight on the scales by the president or the vice president, or [HHS] Secretary [Alex] Azar,” Giroir said. “This was a product produced by the scientific and medical people that was discussed extensively at the task force, and everyone approved that.”