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CDC changes COVID-19 testing guidelines; Doctors say it causes concern

The change from late August states if you come into contact with someone with COVID-19 and don't have symptoms, you don't necessarily need to be tested.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Dr. Vincy Samuel, the director of employee health at Baptist Health, said the change in the Center's for Disease Control and Prevention's testing guidelines concern her.

The changes, made at the end of August on the CDC's website, state, "If you have been in close contact of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms … You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual." Prior to this change, the CDC said anyone in close contact should get tested.

"I was concerned because again, we do want to identify these cases and the only way to do so truly is through testing," Samuel said. “If you do have close and prolonged contact with someone who has COVID-19, especially if you did so with someone who was not wearing a mask, you certainly want to get tested. You could be asymptomatic."

The head of the CDC, Robert Redfield, said everyone who needs a test can get one. He said the change in guidelines puts an emphasis on testing people with symptoms, those with significant exposure, the vulnerable and the front-line workers. Samuel, however, said if you think you've been exposed at all, get tested. 

"If you have a known exposure, whether you have symptoms or you don't have symptoms, you still do want to get tested," she said.

"They may continue to go out and do their normal activities and continue with the transmission of that virus, so in an effort to contain the virus and to reduce the spread, they do need to get tested," Samuel said.

The CDC's website goes on to say you should consult with your doctor or health officials as well. Samuel said if you're unsure what to do, or what your risk of exposure was, contact your health care provider or the health department as well. Also, she added just because you get a negative test doesn't mean the virus won't develop. You need to monitor yourself for 14 days from your last known exposure.

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