The CDC has backtracked on an earlier guideline where it stated that people who do not show any symptoms after being in contact with a coronavirus infected person need not have any tests done. The disease control and prevention agency has updated its guidelines to say that anybody who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 infected individual “needs a test”.
In defining a close contact, the CDC said being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 infected individual for a minimum of 15 minutes is a close contact that warrants a test. According to the new guidelines, talking to or being in close proximity of 6 feet of a confirmed coronavirus person constitutes a close contact that necessitates a test. The agency said testing everyone who is suspected to be in close contact with an infected person is important to stemming the spread of the pandemic and saving lives.
“Please consult with your healthcare provider or public health official,” CDC advised. “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 updated guidelines underscore numerous scientific studies that state that it is possible to be infected with COVID-19 and not show any symptoms while spreading the disease to others who end up becoming symptomatic. The World Health Organization and other health bodies have said it over and over again that people who are asymptomatic must be frequently tested if the spread of the pandemic must be arrested.
Following several criticisms of CDC’s earlier guidelines, the agency said the updated information is actually a clarification of the disputed guidelines and buttresses the need to test asymptomatic persons. CDC leadership said the old guideline was actually misconstrued by the general public and that it wasn’t that the agency was trying to restrict testing for asymptomatic people.
“Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test can get a test,” CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield had said last month. “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.”
Further investigations showed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which supervises the activities of the CDC had an input in the old guideline. To this end, HHS spokesman and former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo was asked to proceed on a leave of absence for trying to influence CDC reports to align with the views of the White House, and his appointee Paul Alexander sacked from HHS.