CDC drops controversial testing advice that caused backlash

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials are dropping a controversial piece of coronavirus guidance and telling all those who have been in close contact with infected people to get tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention essentially returned to its previous guidance about such tests.

In doing so, it got rid of language posted last month that said people who didn’t feel sick didn’t need to get tested.

That August change set off a rash of criticism from health experts who couldn’t fathom why the nation’s top public health agency would say such a thing amid a pandemic that has been difficult to control.

It was “not consistent with the basic principles of controlling an epidemic,” said Dr. Silvia Chiang, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Brown University who applauded the change announced Friday.

The CDC now says anyone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes should get a test. In a statement, the agency called the changes a “clarification” that was needed “due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.”

Agency officials declined additional comment.

Health officials were evasive about why they had made the change in August, and some outside observers speculated it was forced on the CDC by political appointees within the Trump administration.

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