Some doctors say CDC changes to virus testing guidelines could do more harm than good

Friday, August 28, 2020
Health experts blast CDC changes to virus testing
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"It was nonsense," said a Houston doctor who has now tested more than 170,000 people for COVID-19.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Until recently, the CDC recommendation was for anyone who wanted to get tested for COVID-19 should get a test.

This week, the CDC revised the guidance to anyone who came into direct contact with someone who was or is potentially positive for the virus.

It also stated that not everyone who wants to be tested necessarily needs a test.

"It was nonsense. That was my gut reaction," said Dr. Joseph Varon, the chief medical officer at the United Memorial Medical Center, who has now tested more than 170,000 people for COVID-19. "To control the spread, you need to test 60% of the population. We're nowhere close to that."

The confusion comes at a time when testing numbers are decreasing in the Houston region and the state.

At first, the lower numbers were thought to be weather-related, or perhaps fatigue from months of social distancing and isolation.

There was also the opinion that it could be related to the backlash against requirements, such as masks or political rhetoric.

In Houston, according to the Houston Health Department, the positivity rate in testing is just below 10%.

The city's health authority Dr. David Persse said it is crucial to test as many people as possible to pinpoint community spread of the virus and to conduct proper contact tracing in an effort to help isolate those infected.

"The problem is people who have no symptoms, but are positive," he explained. "For that individual, you may be spreading it to your family members, and for the larger community, we have a better idea as to where the virus is spreading."

He continued on saying, "The CDC also says to follow the recommendation of your local health departments. We recommend everyone get tested."

Meanwhile, Varon has concerns for the months ahead.

"Imagine flu season," he said, "Having [the] flu and COVID at the same time, it's going to be a deadly combination."

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