The CDC Just Made a Major Change to Its COVID Testing Guidelines


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has once again altered its guidance on testing people for COVID who are not experiencing symptoms. As of Sept. 18, the CDC now recommends that any close contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID should get tested, whether they have symptoms or not. This is a significant alteration from the controversial update prior to this one, which was made on Aug. 24.

“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,” the site now says.

Person administering COVID test

This update adjusts the changes made in August. The previous update stated, “If you have been in close contact (within six feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms, 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.”

Doctors and health experts cautioned that this August update to the guidelines could be dangerous due to the significant number of asymptomatic and presymptomatic cases circulating.

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The most recent update may have been made in response to the criticism the last update received. “Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC writes about the September update.

In accordance with current CDC guidance, people should get tested for COVID if they demonstrate symptoms or have come into contact—defined as within six feet for at least 15 minutes—with a person who has COVID, even if they’re not experiencing any symptoms themselves. And if you think you were already sick, You Might Have Had COVID If You Had This Symptom in December, Study Finds.

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