Health officials in California are now recommending coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people who live or work in high-risk environments like nursing homes and hospitals, according to new guidelines from the California Department of Public Health.
The move, announced in an April 19 memo to public health departments and others, makes California the first state in the nation to broaden its guidelines for testing to include asymptomatic people, state health officials told CNN.
The updated guidelines from the CDPH says the testing of asymptomatic people who work or live in high-risk settings such as nursing homes and prisons is now considered to be a top priority, along with hospitalized patients and symptomatic health care workers.
Standards vary across the United States when it comes to who can and can’t get a coronavirus test. But while most of the country has focused on testing patients who are already sick, California is describing itself as a pioneer in recommending tests for people without any symptoms at all, so long as they’re in high-risk settings.
According to a CDPH spokesperson, the previous guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was to test high-risk patients with symptoms and health care workers with symptoms.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday the state is currently averaging 14,500 coronavirus tests a day, but said that number “is still inadequate to ultimately get to where we need to go.”
Newsom said that the state must expand testing before it can begin to reopen. He is expected on Wednesday to detail how the state will continue to expand testing as part of the state’s “Road Map to Reopening.”