CDC changes COVID-19 testing guidelines for vaccinated in light of delta variant

Masks once again recommended for vaccinated individuals

A health worker performs a COVID-19 test at the Orange County Convention Center Sunday, July 12, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. Florida on Sunday reported the largest single-day increase in positive coronavirus cases in any one state since the beginning of the pandemic. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 testing guidelines for vaccinated individuals as more data reveals the transmissibility of the delta variant.

Previous guidance from the CDC advised that fully vaccinated people with no symptoms did not have to get tested for COVID-19 even after being exposed to someone with the virus. However, the agency walked back that guidance Tuesday and is now advising everyone, even if they are fully vaccinated, to get tested after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.

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The delta variant, first identified in India, has quickly become the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S., accounting for more than 80% of all cases.

As more is learned about the delta variant, researchers are discovering the viral load, or how much virus someone contains, is higher in the delta variant than was seen in previous variants.

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“We have studies that have now shown that even on the first swab on somebody with a delta variant you’re seeing almost a 1,000 fold increase in the amount of virus,” said Dr. Cameron Webb, a senior policy advisor for the White House COVID-19 response team.

The CDC advises anyone who has been around someone with COVID-19 to be tested three to five days after exposure, even if they are not showing any symptoms.

This update came as the CDC also updated its mask guidance for vaccinated individuals, advising everyone to wear masks in indoor in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infection surges.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.