Coronavirus: CDC changes testing guidelines

August 27, 2020

The move severely limits who gets tested for the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed COVID-19 coronavirus testing guidelines in way which excludes many of those exposed to the disease.

On the agency's website, the CDC now says that a person who had been in close contact, or within six feet, of a person for at least 15 minutes but do not show symptoms does not necessarily need to be tested unless they are vulnerable or their healthcare provider or local public health officials recommend it.

This is a change from the initial guideline which sought to ferret out asymptomatic transmission of the disease. Models suggest about half of transmissions of COVID-19 can be traced to individuals who have yet to show symptoms, if they ever do at all, The New York Times reports.

The change has not been well-received by healthcare experts.

Susan R. Bailey, MD, president of the American Medical Association (AMA), spoke out against the change in a statement.

“Months into this pandemic, we know COVID-19 is spread by asymptomatic people,” Bailey says. “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. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates a guidance the agency should provide a rationale for the change. We urge CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services to release the scientific justification for this change in testing guidelines.”

The timing of the change, during the Republican National Convention in which Trump administration officials have attempted to argue that the pandemic is over, as well as the circumstances of the change have left some believing that the change is politically motivated.

CNN has reported that unnamed sources at the CDC have claimed the changes were mandated by those high up in the administration and that the changes were discussed while the publicly trusted White House Coronavirus Task Force member Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, was under general anesthesia and undergoing surgery.