Louisville health officials are staying the course on their coronavirus testing guidelines despite a recent controversial change made by the Centers for Disease Control which drew the ire of national infectious disease experts.
Bill Altman, who is leading the city’s testing efforts as a consultant, said Thursday that the highest testing priority remains those who have been exposed the the coronavirus.
“What CDC specifically said, which is causing some consternation nationwide, is that they’re no longer recommending testing of asymptomatic people, even those who know are known to be exposed to someone who is tested positive,” said Altman. “And that is clearly not the plan that we’re following.”
The CDC website now says that if a person was within 6 feet of a COVID-positive person for 15 minutes but don’t have symptoms, they “do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.” USA Today reported that national infectious disease experts said the new guidance was reckless.
More: ‘This change in policy will kill’: Experts troubled by CDC changes to COVID-19 testing guidelines
Also: Kentucky Gov. Beshear calls CDC’s new COVID-19 testing guidance ‘reckless, inexplicable’
Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness epidemiologist Rui Zhao, too, said the philosophy is still to prioritize limited resources for those who are likely to be positive.
“For those who are asymptomatic, you’re less likely to have a negative health outcome,” he said. “So therefore quarantining or isolating will be as an effective measure … I believe that we’re still pretty consistent with what we’ve been recommending is that just trying to prioritize our resources, and to the best of our abilities so that people that are in need, and get what they need first before everyone gets their shot at it.”
Dr. Steven Stack, the state public health commissioner, said Wednesday that Kentuckians should stick with the state health department guidelines and get tested if they’ve had a high risk of exposure — especially if they are around a person who’s part of a high-risk population, such as an elderly person or someone with other health complications.
Louisville now has had 11,767 coronavirus cases, with zip code 40219 showing the most cases per capita. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced 180 new cases Thursday and one new death. The city’s positivity rate is 9.2%.
Karen Handmaker, who oversees contact tracing, said most positive cases come from family members or “natural closest contacts” but schools, restaurants and large gatherings are also culprits.
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