CDC posts SARS-CoV-2 testing guidance for community surveillance

Dec. 7, 2020

To reduce the silent spread of SARS-CoV-2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a guidance for screening people with asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections.

In the guidance, the CDC suggests that local and state government officials expand testing to such groups as first responders; teachers; students, faculty and staff at universities and colleges; people who have recently traveled or attended mass gatherings; workers in high-density workplaces and residents of congregate settings.

The CDC also said local government agencies should test close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

For this type of testing, the agency recommends the use of both nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) with quick turnaround times, such as between 24 and 48 hours, and rapid antigen tests. However, asymptomatic people testing positive or symptomatic people testing negative with antigen tests should be confirmed with NAAT.

The agency also suggests that the frequency of testing for asymptomatic persons in prioritized groups (but not known to be close contacts of a confirmed case) could be informed by the current community indicators for COVID-19, including cumulative incidence in the past 7 days and test positivity rate in addition to other known factors about the epidemiology of transmission in a particular community. 

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