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CDC flip-flops on guidelines for people who should get tested after being exposed to coronavirus

“We know at least 40 percent -- maybe as many as 50 percent -- of the cases are without symptoms,” infectious disease expert says.

HOUSTON, Texas — Since the start of the pandemic, widespread testing has been key in stopping the spread of coronavirus.

However, on Wednesday, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people who have been exposed to the virus but aren’t showing symptoms don’t need to get tested.

The new recommendations were swiftly met with criticism from health experts.

Dr. Peter Hotez, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, said the new guidelines don’t make sense.

“We know at least 40 percent -- maybe some say as many as 50 percent -- of the cases are without symptoms,” Hotez said.

After growing concern over revisions on who should get tested, the CDC backtracked on those recommendations.

The CDC now says everyone should consider testing if they have been exposed to the virus.

Hotez said the damage is done.

“It’s not good that we see these kinds of strong statements and followed by reversals the day and the reason is it undermines trust in our public health institutions,” he said.

Also, Hotez said efforts to control the spread of the virus like contact tracing would be severely affected if people stopped getting tested.

He praised local health officials for their continued push of the basics like washing your hands, social distancing and widespread testing.

“Don’t get tested immediately within a day because the virus does have to incubate so the person should get tested within two or three days after getting exposed,” Hotez said.