Updated CDC guideline sparks controversy

Infectious Disease Professor: “It still doesn’t make any sense."

Updated CDC guideline

(WAFF) - Updated COVID-19 guidance from the CDC has many medical professionals scratching their heads…

“It still doesn’t make any sense,” says Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease professor at UAB.

This week, the CDC announced that individuals who have been exposed to coronavirus do not necessarily need to get tested if they aren’t showing symptoms, a reversal of what has been advised throughout the months-long pandemic.

“It’s unlike the CDC to do things like this,” says Dr. Saag. “There’s no rationale behind it. There was no press conference associated with the release that would have given us some idea of why they’re doing this.”

One suggested reason for the change is that it would help conserve testing resources, but Dr. Saag says he thinks communities have been able to see much of their backlog clear.

“We should keep doing what we’re doing. We have the testing available in Alabama to do it the right way. We should keep doing that.”

After all, a big concern with the updated guideline is its impact on contact tracing.

“The failure to test and just quarantine, you lose track of the epidemic immediately because you could be quarantining someone who doesn’t have the infection, but more importantly, if you quarantine someone who does, you don’t know it,” says Dr. Saag. “If you knew it, you could then find their contacts and so forth. Here, it handcuffs the people trying to track the epidemic.”

While the new guideline excludes vulnerable individuals, meaning the CDC still recommends that older adults or those with underlying conditions get tested after COVID exposure regardless of symptom status, Dr. Saag encourages everyone who’s been exposed to get tested and disregard this CDC change.

“The main thing to keep in mind… The CDC issues guidance - not directives, not requirements, not law. My advice is to ignore this particular guidance,” says Dr. Saag. “I think it’s just a misguided misstep on the part of CDC. I wouldn’t be surprised in the next couple weeks if they reverse it.”

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