NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)- The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has done a 180 on its guidance for COVID-19 testing and quarantining even if a person comes in close contact with someone who has it.
In a shift that left some doctors scratching their heads, the CDC now says people without symptoms may not need to be tested, even if they’ve been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive patient.
The agency’s previous position said testing was important for anyone who may have been exposed, even if they’re asymptomatic.
The CDC did not explain the change, which some doctors call confusing and frustrating.
“Public health experts and epidemiologists, everyone agrees that we need more testing, not less. We have to catch every case in order to contain outbreaks,” said Dr. Alice Chen, the former executive director of Doctors for America. “The second thing that concerns me is the way that it was rolled out, which is that basically the website just changed overnight with no announcement, no explanation, there’s no backup. This is very unusual for the CDC, which has always been based in science and data.”
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The agency also did an “about face” on the issue of quarantining. Previous CDC guidance prompted states like New York to implement a mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone who’d traveled to a coronavirus hot spot.
On Friday, the agency quietly dropped the quarantine recommendation.
“The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that it is a very politically motivated change,” said Dr. Chen. “We’ve heard the president say again and again that more testing is just making him look bad.”
CBS2’s Jessica Moore asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo how New York State, which still requires travelers from 31 states to quarantine for 14 days, would respond to the CDC’s changes.
“Will these new quarantine guidelines change your position on the quarantine rules for New Yorkers?” Moore asked.
“We’re not going to follow the CDC guidance. I consider it political propaganda,” Cuomo said. “I would caution private companies against following the CDC guidance.”
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The CDC still warns that risk of infection is high and recommends everyone continue to practice social distancing, wear masks and wash hands often. The CDC would not comment on its policy change, directing CBS News to the department of Health and Human Services, which responded: “The intent of the updated Guidance is to ensure testing is used appropriately and individuals are protecting themselves and others.”
The physicians CBS2 spoke with do urge people to continue to quarantine after travel and to request COVID tests anytime they may have been exposed.
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