Just a few days after quietly changing its guidance on COVID-19 testing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flip-flopped once again and said those who do not show any coronavirus symptoms should still be tested.
The CDC revised its testing guidance on Monday, limiting test to only those who show symptoms.
Those who do not show symptoms “do not necessarily need a test,” even if they were exposed to an infected person, according to the new guidance.
The change prompted backlash from many who argued that asymptomatic carriers should be preemptively tested since the original concern with COVID-19 was that asymptomatic people would spread the virus unknowingly.
After the criticism began to mount, CDC Director Robert Redfield backtracked and said that those who come in contact with a confirmed or probably COVID-19 patient should be tested, even if they don’t show symptoms.
“Testing is meant to drive actions and achieve specific public health objectives,” Redfield said.
“Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get a test,” he continued. “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.”
This is just the latest example of inconsistency from the CDC. The agency’s guidance on masks, for example, has changed multiple times over the past few months.
At first, the CDC advised people against wearing masks, arguing that they would not help unless the wearer was sick. But now the CDC’s guidance encourages everyone to wear a mask while in public, regardless of whether the wearer is sick.
The agency also sent faulty tests to labs in the early days of the pandemic, which resulted in massive testing shortages when the states needed them the most.
This latest lip-flop will only further undermine the American public’s trust in the CDC and the rest of our health experts, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a dean at Baylor College of Medicine.
“While it’s good CDC is walking it back, this misstep comes at a price,” Hotez told USA Today. “The American people are losing confidence in the U.S. public health response to COVID-19.”