Clearing up confusion after mixed messaging on COVID-19 testing

Mixed messages are coming from the State of Florida and from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about who should be getting a COVID-19 test.

The change from the state comes as some are waiting for hours at testing sites in Orange County.

"My wife just called me and told me she tested positive, so I figured well might as well come here and get tested," said Roger Turcotte while waiting in line at Barnett Park.

Florida’s surgeon general now says people don’t need to go and get a test unless they have symptoms and fall in a high-risk category.

"It does not make sense to be running around with swabs testing people who are completely healthy," Joseph Ladapo said in a news conference Thursday.

But that contradicts the CDC’s guidance that says you should get tested if you’ve been exposed.

"One day they tell you everything’s fine, the next day they tell you something’s wrong," Turcotte said. "You don’t know what to believe anymore."

"It is a bit frustrating the lack of consistency and how at times, you know, the guidance and the guidelines can just change all the sudden without much reasoning or explanation," said Kareem Moslehy, also waiting in line.

"That always creates a problem when you have incoherent messaging," said Dr. Thomas Hladish, a COVID-19 researcher at the University of Florida.
Hladish calls the sudden change by the state shortsighted.

The researcher points to asymptomatic people who are around others who are high-risk. He says it can also cause problems for people like him who are trying to track the virus.

"When you change how testing works in the middle of an epidemic wave, it’s going to change how that wave looks," Hladish said. "And so if we see a change in the trajectory, maybe it stops growing so quickly, is that real?"

Hladish acknowledges that these are tough decisions with so many people having trouble finding a test.

He thinks people who don’t need to know if they’re positive, are able to stay home, and can stay away from those at a higher risk probably don’t need to get tested right now.

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