CDC walks back COVID-19 guidelines, now urges tests for asymptomatic

Workers paint numbers Thursday in areas where concertgoers will listen to music this weekend in St. Louis, Mo. Live concerts will return to the city at The Lot, which has dozens of 9x9 patches of astroturf where attendees can distance and adhere to safety guidelines at the events. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Sept. 18 (UPI) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday walked back a previous revision it made to its COVID-19 testing recommendations.

The body now says that anyone exposed to someone with the virus should be tested, even if they have no symptoms. This includes people who have spent at least 15 seconds within 6 feet of someone confirmed to have the virus.

“Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC said on its website.

Last month, the CDC updated its guidelines to say people who’ve spent time with someone with an active case of COVID-19 don’t need to be tested. The agency came under fire for the directive, with some accusing the government of trying to slow the U.S. coronavirus count by reducing testing.

The CDC also said that anyone who’s been close to someone with COVID-19 should self-isolate at home for at least 14 days — even if they’re asymptomatic and/or tested negative for the virus.

The United States added more than 40,000 new COVID-19 cases and nearly 1,000 deaths Thursday, according to updated data from Johns Hopkins University.

Data compiled by the university’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering showed about 44,400 new cases, the most in a week. There were also 870 deaths, bringing the toll over the past three days to about 3,000.

To date, there have been 6.68 million cases and 197,700 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic.

In Nevada, officials have decided to allow bars, taprooms and breweries in Las Vegas to reopen Monday.

Nevada’s COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force approved a request late Thursday by Clark County to allow them to open at midnight Sunday.

The decision came after the county’s positivity rate fell to 8.6% last week.

Under the plan, drinking businesses must follow state standards and enforcement measures, including mandatory face coverings and a 50% capacity limit.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott further relaxed restrictions for businesses Thursday, saying the state “can address both the health and safety concerns of COVID-19 while also taking careful, measured steps to restore the livelihoods that Texans depend on.”

Abbott expanded occupancy levels for restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities, and classes, museums, and libraries, allowing them to increase capacity to 75% starting Monday.

Abbott also re-authorized elective surgeries and announced less-restrictive guidelines on visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Texas bars, however, must remain closed.

Hospitalizations in Texas have fallen from a peak of nearly 11,000 in July to a little more than 3,000 Thursday.

“Without vaccines available, containing COVID is a challenge, but Texans have already shown that they are up to that challenge,” Abbott told reporters in Austin. “As we go about the process to continue to contain COVID, we will also continue to work to open up Texas.”


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