Asymptomatic Persons No Longer Recommended for COVID Testing

LA County no longer recommends that people not showing symptoms of COVID-19 get tested


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Catie Coyle

On Jan. 26, the very first case of COVID-19 in California was reported in Santa Clara County. Gov. Gavin Newsom has since given strict orders to close or “lockdown” many publicly open establishments such as bars, nightclubs, wineries and even schools. Newsom had also recommended that adults age 65 and over who have previous or current health conditions to remain home.

It was not until April 29 that Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced that any city and county residents can get tested for the COVID-19. “While priority will still be given to those with symptoms, individuals without symptoms can also be tested,” Garcetti said via Twitter, essentially meaning that free COVID-19 testing was now available to anyone.

Currently in Los Angeles County, those who are asymptomatic or, “producing or showing no symptoms,” are no longer recommended to get tested according to the California Department of Public Health. Asymptomatic persons fall under California secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly’s tier four of new state testing guidelines. Tiers one through three have all been identified as persons who have symptoms, rather than think they do or who show no symptoms at all. These guidelines were created to prioritize testing those who are hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms, as well as other symptomatic people.

According to the Los Angeles County Division of Public Health, LAC DPH, guidelines, “Healthcare providers and systems are encouraged to expand SARS CoV-2 diagnostic testing to more patients with symptoms of COVID-19.” The guidelines also say that, “Testing asymptomatic persons may be recommended if they are part of an outbreak or case investigation, or if they are staff or residents in a high-risk congregate living setting, or if they are a close contact to a confirmed case.” This means that people who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus or SARS CoV-2,  should be tested immediately.

The LAC DPH’s molecular testing, the process by which a healthcare worker collects a sample fluid from the nose, throat or saliva for diagnosing COVID-19, will be prioritized for hospitalized patients, healthcare facility workers and workers in congregate living settings, like prisons and shelters. As far as those who are asymptomatic, testing is only recommended for those working and living in settings such as skilled nursing, congregate living facilities, correctional facilities, and those who are homeless.

The LAC DHP also stated that it is, “Important to emphasize that if they [asymptomatic people] test negative that it only means that the test did not detect the virus at the time the test was taken. A negative result can also happen if the test was taken too early and/or the test missed the infection. A negative test does NOT mean the person can safely ignore physical distancing and mask requirements.”

More information is regarding COVID-19 safety measures, guidelines and restrictions of public establishments at the LA County of Public health’s website