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CDC updates its COVID-19 testing guidelines

DETROIT – Some people who have been exposed to COVID-19 may no longer need to be tested for the virus.

Aug. 26, 2020: Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases up to 99,200; Death toll now at 6,424

Previously the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended testing for “all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.” The CDC recognized the need to test even in the absence of symptoms and now they’re saying testing is not always necessary for those without symptoms.

New guidelines from the CDC claim those who have been exposed, but don’t have symptoms might not need to be tested.

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It’s not clear what data the CDC s relying on to justify that change, and public health officials have concerns that this could allow people who are contagious but asymptomatic or those that haven’t developed symptoms to infect other people without knowing it. In fact, the same guidance document explicitly states “it is important to realize that you can be infected and spread the virus but feel well and have no symptoms.”

While this does have the potential to decease testing for the broad public, it doesn’t mean groups like schools or critical infrastructure employers wouldn’t still require testing.

Testing after a potential exposure is still recommended regardless of symptoms for vulnerable individuals -- such as older adults and anyone with chronic medical conditions. The update does not reference quarantine or isolation after an exposure, but the CDC still recommends it.


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