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Thursday, October 22, 2020

CDC reverses course and recommends testing for asymptomatic people exposed to COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advises people who have been exposed to the coronavirus but do not have symptoms to get tested, reversing a controversial policy set last month that recommended against such testing.

“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 guidance said as of Friday.

After the CDC changed its testing guidance on Aug. 24 to say that asymptomatic people “do not necessarily need a test” even if they were exposed, the Trump administration fought back against accusations that the policy was meant to limit access to coronavirus tests. The move was criticized by outside public health experts as an instance of politics overtaking science, as President Trump has argued that less testing would mean fewer cases.

On Thursday, it was revealed that CDC scientists did not write last month’s testing guidelines and that the document did not go through the normal vetting process, which includes fact-checking and several back-and-forths for scientific review, according to the New York Times.

“A heavily criticized recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by CDC scientists and was posted to the agency’s website despite their serious objections,” according to a report published on Thursday by the New York Times.



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