CDC Flip-Flops on Coronavirus Testing Guidelines

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A health worker puts a nasal swab sample into a tube in a tent at a COVID-19 testing site at St. John's Well Child and Family Center, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, July 24, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

New CDC guidelines for asymptomatic coronavirus testing caused an uproar this week. The advice was that people who’ve been exposed to the coronavirus but don’t have symptoms shouldn’t get tested. But then, in an unusual clarification, the CDC walked that back. Meanwhile, the FDA gave “emergency use authorization” to a rapid antigen test that costs only $5. Also this week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a deal with a diagnostics lab to more than double test processing capacity in California. We’ll explain what these developments mean and which could help open schools and bring our economy back to life.


Dr. Celine Gounder, epidemiologist, internist and host of the podcasts "American Diagnosis" and "Epidemic," which is about COVID-19