CDC changes testing guidelines as COVID-19 again surges overseas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its guidelines on who should be tested for the coronavirus and travel quarantine, shocking public health experts across the country.

This week, the agency said asymptomatic people no longer need to get a test even though the CDC itself also said 40% of COVID-19 infections are in people with no symptoms.

The CDC previously suggested testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic people who were in close contact with a positive case. Now, the emphasis is on testing people who show symptoms, are from vulnerable populations or those who have a doctor’s recommendation for a test.

The CDC also said travelers no longer need to quarantine for 14 days after domestic or international travel, and that’s a reversal from previous suggestions.

The agency now advises travelers to watch their health, socially distance from others, wear a mask and wash their hands. The CDC also said to follow state and local requirements and recommendations after travel.

Meanwhile, the virus is in a resurgence abroad.

“Spain is re-erupting. Germany is re-erupting. England is re-erupting. Brazil is going crazy,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, a public health expert with USF Health.

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Wolfson told FOX 13 the changes to testing recommendations are confusing and go against what doctors and medical experts know.

“It’s unclear wHat they’re really trying to say because we know that 40 percent of the people who have this disease are asymptomatic,” said Wolfson. “There is no clinical or scientific basis for doing it.”

Testing is vital to finding out who has the virus, and tracking down where the virus may spread comes down to contact tracing. But the changes could impact those efforts.

“If you’re breaking that chain, then you’re actually making it impossible to control the disease,” Wolfson said.

The CDC’s actions have called into question the motive behind them. The New York Times reports the Trump administration told the CDC to narrow the testing field.

But Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D., of the U.S. Health and Human Services told the NYT Wednesday “guidelines received appropriate attention, consultation and input from task force experts” including medical and scientific experts.

In a statement released to Fox News, Giroir wrote “the updated guidance places an emphasis on testing individuals with symptomatic illness, those with a significant exposure or for vulnerable populations."

FOX 13 reached out to the CDC for comment on these changes but haven’t heard back. FOX 13 also reached out to the governor’s office to see if the changes affect how the state or local communities handle testing but did not get a response.