What testing is recommended for asymptomatic individuals without known or suspected severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) exposure for early identification in special settings?

Updated: Jun 16, 2020
  • Author: Medscape Drugs & Diseases; more...
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Approaches for early identification of asymptomatic individuals include [3] :

  • Initial testing of everyone residing and/or working in the setting,

  • Regular (eg, weekly) testing of everyone residing and/or working in the setting, and

  • Testing of new entrants into the setting and/or those reentering after a prolonged absence (eg, ≥1 day)

These approaches could be considered in settings such as the following [3] :

  • Long-term care facilities

  • Correctional and detention facilities

  • Homeless shelters

  • Other congregate work or living settings including mass care, temporary shelters, assisted living facilities, and group homes for individuals with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities

  • High-density critical infrastructure workplaces where continuity of operations is a high priority


SARS-CoV-2 may spread quickly in certain settings and cause substantial adverse effects, particularly in settings that house vulnerable populations in close quarters for extended periods (eg, long-term care facilities, correctional and detention facilities) and/or settings where critical infrastructure workers (eg, healthcare personnel, first responders) may be disproportionately affected. [3]

A strategy aimed at reducing introduction of SARS-CoV-2 into the setting through early identification could reduce the risk of widespread transmission in these situations. [3]

Facilities are encouraged to work with local, territorial, and state health departments to help inform decision making about broad-based testing. Before testing large numbers of asymptomatic individuals without known or suspected exposure, the facility should have a plan in place for how it will modify operations based on test results. [3]

The CDC offers guidance to address such testing. Preadmission or preprocedure testing may be considered as part of the patient evaluation to inform decisions about deferring elective care (eg, certain dental procedures) or procedures and the use of personal protective equipment. The CDC also provides testing guidance for nursing homes.

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