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Governor Breaks With CDC On New Testing Guidance

Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear giving his daily coronavirus briefing on 4/9/20.
Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear giving his daily coronavirus briefing on 4/9/20.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear described changes to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s testing protocols as “reckless” and urged residents to ignore the latest guidance.

The CDC’s new recommendations suggest those who have been in contact with a person infected with coronavirus do not need to be tested if they don’t show symptoms. This is despite widespread evidence that people can contract and spread COVID-19 without or before displaying symptoms.

Beshear reported 696 new cases and seven new deaths Wednesday. More than 45,000 Kentuckians have contracted COVID-19.

Public health experts say testing, in conjunction with social distancing and contact tracing, is critical to tracking and controlling the spread of the virus. Beshear and medical experts say that’s why the country needs more testing, not less.

"I just want to be a little more explicit about the CDC's recent change," Beshear said. "It's reckless. It contradicts everything we know and have learned about this virus."

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack advised Kentuckians to follow the state’s guidance and continue the practice of getting tested after coming in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.

He noted that the CDC’s own guidance recommends residents listen to state over federal guidance in areas where the disease is more prevalent.

"And so as your state health official I'm saying the disease is more active in Kentucky," he said. "And I would encourage you if you have a high-risk exposure to still get tested and not use this to justify a lack of need to get testing."

Additionally Stack said there is now good evidence to suggest that once people have been infected, after 10 days and 24 hours of no symptoms they can return to daily life without an additional test.

The reason behind the change in the CDC’s guidance is unclear. Beshear said he didn't have any special information about the change, but is concerned with the increased politicization of the coronavirus, and stressed that the virus is real and does not recognize political affiliation.

"It appears there is a disconnect going on somewhere there in Washington, but we need more testing," Beshear said.

He noted that testing does not create new cases, but discovers cases that already exist. That contrasts with President Donald Trump's statements that increases in cases are due to an increase in testing.

The CDC posted the revised testing guidelines Monday saying people “do not necessarily need a test” if they don’t have symptoms.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.