The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a revised document Friday, September 18, 2020, concerning the guidelines for close contact testing. The CDC now advises that close contacts of people with COVID-19 should be tested, even if they are exhibiting no symptoms.
From the CDC website:
“If you have been in close contact, such as within 6 feet, of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 15 minutes and do not have symptoms, you need a test. Please consult with your healthcare 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 an 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.
Healthcare 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.”
The CDC drew sharp criticism from health experts last month when it amended its testing guidelines to declare that most asymptomatic people with extended exposure to someone with a confirmed infection did not need to be tested.
Public health groups around the country applauded the revised document. Thomas File Jr., the president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, stated, “The return to a science-based approach to testing guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is good news for public health and for our united fight against this pandemic. We urge officials to support the work of controlling this pandemic by following medical guidance of experts in the field.”
POLITICO reported that top Trump administration officials involved with the White House coronavirus task force last month ordered the CDC to stop promoting testing for asymptomatic people, including those with high-risk exposures.
According to The New York Times, the changes to the CDC guidelines were made by officials at the Department of Health and Human Services in spite of objections from CDC scientists.