CDC Rebukes Guidance, Advises Testing for Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Exposure

September 18, 2020

The guidance clarification published today comes just a day after reports a polarizing guidance was published last month without full review nor consensus from the agency.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a clarification to its coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) testing guidance published last month, one day after reports revealed some of its advisories were not written, reviewed, or approved for publishing by the agency.

The new clarification, published September 18, walks back guidance against testing asymptomatic individuals who were exposed to the virus.

“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 statement reads on the CDC website.

Just yesterday, The New York Times reported that unnamed CDC scientists and officials presented evidence that representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the White House Coronavirus Task Force had published the original statement against asymptomatic testing to the CDC website without it first going through standard scientific review.

CDC director Robert Redfield has come under scrutiny for allowing such unchecked advisory to be published under the agency’s name, and stated to Congress earlier this week the intention to run a “revision” of the guidance.

As of this afternoon, the guidance now advises that asymptomatic people who have been in close contact (≤6 feet) for at least 15 minutes with a person who has a documented SARS-CoV-2 infection receive a test.

“Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the guidance read. “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. Pending test results, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home and stay separated from household members to the extent possible and use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.”