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Nevada health officials conflict with CDC on COVID-19 testing recommendations

Posted at 2:24 PM, Aug 26, 2020

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changing their COVID-19 testing guidance, state of Nevada health officials confirm that they will not be adopting the new guidance and will continue to strongly recommend testing for all individuals – symptomatic or asymptomatic – who have been in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

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Earlier this week, the CDC said that some individuals without symptoms may not need to be tested.

Prior to the change, CDC guidelines recommended testing “close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection” so that “contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested.” The State of Nevada will continue with this guidance.

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If an individual has been in close contact, defined as within six feet, or a person with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services officials recommend getting a test regardless of whether the individual is experiencing symptoms or not.

“We disagree with the change in CDC guidelines and will continue to strongly recommend and urge testing for all individuals – symptomatic or asymptomatic – who have been in close contact of persons with COVID-19,” said Dr. Ishan Azzam, Nevada’s Chief Medical Officer.

“The continued testing of asymptomatic individuals is vital in helping state and local health officials determine the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, in addition to being a critical component of our contact tracing efforts, especially due to the fact that a significant number of transmissions can come from people not experiencing symptoms. Testing will help provide Nevadans with more information about their own health conditions and will help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

Nevada has been recommending expanded testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients since May 5, when DHHS issued a technical bulletin to health care providers and facilities. The technical bulletin can be accessed here.

Expanding testing plays a major part in influencing the state’s prevention and control measures. Additional testing can also lead to a larger number of Nevadans being made aware of their conditions, the knowledge that could contribute to focused social distancing, and further slowing community transmissions.

The Southern Nevada Health District also continues to recommend testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic people in Clark County. Saying it is up to each jurisdiction to make judgments about the best course of action for its community. Because many people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, the health district considers it important to ensure testing is readily available to the public.

If you do get tested, you should self-quarantine or isolate pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or public health professional.

The Nevada Health Response website has an easy-to-use testing locator tool on the website, nvhealthresponse.nv.gov, where residents and visitors can find testing locator sites.