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CDC backtracks on controversial virus testing guideline change

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CDC backtracks on controversial virus testing guideline change

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield pauses while speaking Sept. 16 at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines Friday saying people who have had close contacts with someone with a coronavirus infection need a test, even if they don’t have symptoms.

The change came after a controversy in late August, when the agency suggested those people didn’t need COVID-19 screenings.

People who don’t have symptoms and aren’t close contacts of an infected person still don’t require a screening, unless it’s recommended by a medical provider or public-health official, according to the latest CDC advice.

The August shift on testing asymptomatic individuals had said testing might not be needed for close contacts. It was slammed by public health experts, who said it could cut the amount of testing in the U.S., and several states said they wouldn’t follow the guidance. The New York Times, meanwhile, reported on Thursday that the guidelines were rewritten by the Department of Health and Human Services, and released in spite of opposition from CDC scientists.

The revised testing guidelines issued Friday were also changed by HHS and didn’t go through the CDC’s typical review, according to the Times report.

HHS said in a statement that “as always, guidelines receive appropriate attention, consultation and input from the medical and scientific experts on the Task Force,” referring to the White House Coronavirus Task Force.Public health experts have advocated for mass testing as a means of identifying virus cases and preventing further spread, but the U.S. has yet to achieve […]

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