Sep 18, 2020 - Health

CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people

Redfield wears a suit and tie while sitting in front of a name tag
CDC director Robert Redfield testifies at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Sept. 16. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its previously revised guidance for coronavirus testing on Friday to say that testing asymptomatic people who were exposed to COVID-19 is recommended for treatment and contact tracing.

Why it matters: The CDC's modification in August to recommend against testing for asymptomatic people was not written by scientists and posted despite their "serious objections," New York Times first reported. CNN confirmed that the agency's update was published outside the agency's "normal review process."

  • Unnamed officials told the Times that the Department of Health and Human Services rewrote the guidance and “dropped” it onto the CDC's website, without following the agency’s scientific review process.

The big picture: A slew of recent reporting suggests deep politicization of the Trump administration's coronavirus response, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • House Democrats have launched an investigation into allegations that Trump's political appointees — including Michael Caputo, a former member of the Trump campaign with no scientific background — pressured CDC officials "to block the publication of accurate scientific reports" on the coronavirus.

The bottom line: "Testing asymptomatic people who have been in contact with confirmed cases can identify these people early and ensure they are both isolated, so they cannot transmit the virus, and monitored, in case they go on to develop severe disease," Stat News' Helen Branswell wrote in August, after the CDC's initial reversal.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper