CDC Suddenly Reverses Then Walks Back Changes in COVID-19 Testing Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suddenly reversed, and then walked back changes in its COVID-19 testing guidelines. According to The Hill, the CDC previously recommended an individual get tested if they came in contact with someone known to have been infected with coronavirus because of asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission concerns. Then, on Monday, the CDC changed its guidelines to only recommend testing for someone who has shown symptoms.

This led to an outcry from many that political entities outside of the department could have forced this new rule. CDC Director Robert Redfield issued a statement on Thursday, clarifying the department's stance, which is essentially a reversal of their reversal. "Testing is meant to drive actions and achieve specific public health objectives. Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get a test. 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."

Many were critical of the initial guidance reversal, including former CDC Director Tom Frieden. "Not testing asymptomatic contacts allows Covid to spread. The CDC guidance is indefensible," Frieden wrote in a tweet. "No matter who wrote it and got it posted on the CDC site, it needs to be changed."

Currently, on the CDC website under the "Testing Overview" section, the department states that it recommends testing for anyone who has "symptoms of COVID-19," and anyone who has "been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms." The caveat here, however, is that the CDC adds, "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."

The CDC does not recommend testing for those who "do not have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been in close contact with someone known to have a COVID-19 infection." It does add that these individuals can still get testing, if they prefer, and if they do they "should self-isolate at home" until they their test results come in. The CDC also states, "A negative test does not mean you will not contract an infection at a later time."