State, local health officials respond to new CDC testing guidelines

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Previously, the CDC recommended anyone get tested if they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus because of the possible pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission; that guideline changed Monday.

Now the agency is saying there’s no need for a test if you don’t have symptoms of the virus, even if you have been within 6 feet of someone who has it for at least 15 minutes.

The guideline exempted vulnerable individuals. The CDC is now leaving the choice of getting tested in the hands of health care providers and state and local public health officials.

On Thursday, the director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, clarified the new guideline emphasizing the need of engaging the public health community.

Dr. Dale Lusk, Chief Medical Officer of McLeod Health, said the new guideline may have caused some confusion. He believes, however, that it is important to test those who may have been exposed to the virus even if they are asymptomatic.

“We know that 40-50% of those patients with coronavirus don’t have any symptoms at all and don’t realize they have the disease,” Dr. Lusk said. “So, testing even those that are asymptomatic who have been exposed is an important part of control of the disease.”

Dr. Joan Duwve, South Carolina DHEC Director of Public Health, shared a statement with News13 regarding the new CDC guidelines.

We continue to emphasize the importance of testing. Given that 40-50 percent of individuals with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms, until we receive further clarification, we recommend routine testing of individuals with known exposures or concerns about exposures to diagnose those who are asymptomatic and interrupt the ongoing spread of the virus.

Dr. Joan Duwve

As for now, McLeod Health hasn’t made any changes in coronavirus testing.

“We did not change our testing algorithm based on those new recommendations a few days ago because we didn’t feel like it made a difference in how we tested,” Dr. Lusk said.

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