CDC Revises the Revision on Testing Guidance

Redfield says people without symptoms can take a test if they want one, and if their provider agrees
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2020 1:35 PM CDT
After Backlash, CDC Tries Again on Test Guidelines
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, appears at a hearing July 31 on Capitol Hill.   (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

The new guidance on coronavirus testing issued Monday by the CDC didn't last the week. After decreeing that people without symptoms don't need to be tested, the agency backtracked Thursday, the Hill reports. Dr. Robert Redfield said anyone who's been in contact with someone confirmed to have the virus, or who is thought to probably have it, can take a test—symptoms or not. "Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test can get a test," the CDC director said. "Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test," he added. "The key is to engage the needed public health community in the decision." That's still less sweeping than the recommendations in effect before this week. The CDC earlier had said that the risk of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmission was the reason that anyone who'd had such contacts should be tested.

Health experts had objected to the policy posted Monday on the CDC website, per the New York Times, saying that the virus is spread by people not showing symptoms, so it's nonsensical to say not to be tested unless you're ill. Not quite returning to the previous advice, Redfield said people in doubt about whether to be tested should consult a medical provider. The change had come from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, though Redfield said it was a joint effort with the CDC, per CNBC. One expert not consulted, though he's on the task force, was Dr. Anthony Fauci. He was out cold when the decision was made; Fauci had surgery to remove a polyp from his vocal cords. "I was under general anesthesia in the operating room and was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding the new testing recommendations," he told CNN. (More Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stories.)

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