NYC Health Department Updates Guidance on COVID Testing

June 4, 2020 | Ada Janocinska | COVID-19 | Legislation and Public Policy

On June 2, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued Health Advisory #18 which recommends that all New Yorkers receive testing for COVID-19 regardless of whether or not they present symptoms or are considered to be at an increased risk for the virus. This is a change from prior guidance which recommended prioritizing testing among those at risk and those presenting symptoms. The Department explained that, as NYC begins to reopen and the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decrease, routine testing of all individuals will help stop the spread of COVID-19. As such, all individuals that seek medical care for any reason should be offered the test.

In addition, repeat tests should be offered when: (i) the patient has COVID-19 symptoms; (ii) the patient is concerned about COVID-19 exposure (e.g., if they spent time in large crowds, failed to adhere to social distancing and face mask rules, or were exposed to confirmed or possible COVID-19 cases); (iii) the patient works in a residential congregate setting (e.g., a nursing home or shelter); or (iv) the patient plans to visit someone at a high risk for COVID-19 (e.g., individuals over the age of 65 or with serious underlying conditions). If someone had a prior positive test for COVID-19, repeat testing should be avoided unless clinically indicated or recommended by public health guidance, based on the fact that the virus is non-transmissible after a certain infectious period.

It is also recommended that healthcare providers encourage their patients to find free testing locations near them and to share test results with their providers.

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