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By Gary Evans, Medical Writer
The firestorm over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) recent decision to stop testing asymptomatic contacts of COVID-19 cases continues to grow stronger.
A letter signed by 235 medical organizations — including the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) — warned that the CDC’s hard-earned and well-respected public health reputation is at risk.
“The foundation of public confidence in the national response to COVID-19 must include the protection of the CDC’s widely recognized and respected independence and scientific integrity,” states the letter to Vice President Mike Pence.
The medical groups call for the decision to be reversed, noting that by the CDC’s own estimation, “about 40% of infections are asymptomatic, meaning people who do not know they are infected are a significant source of transmission.”
Case identification of asymptomatic people is “critical to support appropriate isolation and quarantine measures, identification of contacts, to limit spread, and to provide the comprehensive view of community spread needed to inform effective public health responses,” the letter concluded. “… By downplaying the importance of testing for asymptomatic individuals, especially those who have been exposed to the virus, these guidelines could precipitate further community spread."