Centers for Disease Control Releases New COVID-19 Testing Guidance
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released guidance on the appropriate use of COVID-19 testing on its website. The webpage outlines the various categories for COVID-19 testing (symptomatic individuals, asymptomatic individuals with recent exposure to COVID-19, etc.) and the recommended testing procedures for those individuals (viral tests — to detect current infections — or antibody tests, to detect previous infections).
In addition, the CDC provides testing strategies for COVID-19 in high-density critical infrastructure workplaces after a COVID-19 case is identified. According to the CDC, workers in high-density settings who work extended periods of time (8-12 hour shifts) and have prolonged close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) may be at increased risk for exposure to COVID-19. Sharing transportation, frequent contact among laborers in community settings and shared housing also may increase risk.
Based on current COVID-19 experience, the CDC reports that when a symptomatic worker with COVID-19 is identified, there are often asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic workers present as well. Therefore testing is critical to identify these individuals — many of whom may not know they are infected — and mitigate the spread of the disease. The CDC notes that screening for symptoms, COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and sending home symptomatic employees are important strategies to prevent outbreaks.
The CDC outlines in-depth considerations for developing a testing strategy, defines various tiers that can help employers identify employees‘ priority for testing and elaborates on strategies specific to those tiers that can help mitigate transmission of COVID-19.
To help employers determine what testing strategies should be adopted in the event of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case at the workplace, the CDC has created a testing strategy flow diagram.