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Washington COVID-19 testing recommendations won’t change despite CDC guidance

Washington will still recommend asymptomatic people who were exposed to coronavirus be tested, even though the CDC relaxed testing guidelines.

SEATTLE — A Washington state health official says the state will not change its coronavirus testing recommendations despite new federal guidance.

Guidance previously on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website recommended tests for "all close contacts" of people who test positive for COVID-19. The CDC has now revised that guidance online and says close contacts who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not exhibiting symptoms "do not necessarily need a test."

However, Dr. Charissa Fotinas, deputy chief medical officer for the Washington State Health Care Authority, said Wednesday that recommendations for COVID-19 testing in Washington will stay the same.

“We think it’s important for contacts of people with COVID-19 to be tested, and we are not going to change our recommendations based on that CDC guidance,” said Fotinas.

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The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) recommends anyone with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or anyone with “likely exposure” be tested.

The new CDC guidance does still recommend "vulnerable" close contacts get tested after potential exposure. It also notes people may be asked to get tested by a person's health care providers or local or state public health officials. 

During a DOH press conference on Wednesday, Fotinas was asked if she was upset by the CDC's change in guidelines, to which she said no but that "it complicates an already complicated message." 

Between Aug. 7-14, Washington administered 13,639 coronavirus tests, 4.1% of which came back positive, according to the most recent complete data from DOH. The state’s goal is to have fewer than 2% of tests be positive.

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