On Monday, the CDC released new guidelines regarding who should be tested for coronavirus. The agency no longer recommends that anyone who has been potentially exposed to someone with COVID definitely get tested if he or she is asymptomatic. This advice, which was rolled out quietly on the CDC website, is different from previous recommendations.
If you’ve been in close contact (within 6 feet) with a person who has COVID for at least 15 minutes, the CDC says “you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or state or local public health officials recommend you take one.”
Epidemiologists and other health experts have criticized the change in CDC guidance because asymptomatic people are suspected of playing a role in spreading the virus. It’s been widely reported that it’s possible to have coronavirus without any symptoms of the virus. But experts are now questioning the benefits of testing people since even if a person tests negative, they still may later develop symptoms of the virus.
On Thursday, CDC Director Robert Redfield clarified the new guidance by adding that those who come into contact with confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients can be tested even without symptoms. “Testing is meant to drive actions and achieve specific public health objectives. Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get a test. 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,” Redfield said in a statement following criticism from doctors and scientists.
The CDC does recommend that all individuals exposed to the virus monitor themselves for symptoms and adhere to CDC mitigation protocols if interacting with a vulnerable individual.
The CDC also updated its travel requirements on Friday, saying that people no longer need to quarantine for 14 days after returning from another country or state.
Travelers are still advised to “follow state, territorial, tribal and local recommendations or requirements after travel.” The previous guidelines recommended a 14-day quarantine for those returning from international destinations or areas with a high concentration of coronavirus cases.
“You can get COVID-19 during your travels,” says the CDC. “You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can still spread COVID-19 to others. You and your travel companions (including children) may spread COVID-19 to other people including your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you were exposed to the virus.”
New Jersey has a list of destinations that are on the travel advisory list and that list is continually being updated. If you’re returning to New Jersey from one of the listed states where COVID cases are high such as Florida or Texas, you’ll need to self-quarantine for two weeks upon your return to the Garden State. States such as Maine and Vermont are not on the list so no self-quarantine upon return is necessary. Be sure to check the list before planning any travel.