But vaccines have not yet made tests obsolete. Public health officials and researchers are worried that declines in testing could allow undetected viral spread. As Washington Post reporter William Wan wrote recently: “Until more people receive their shots, testing remains one of the country’s main tools for stopping the chain of transmission.”
President Biden has pushed to make more tests available. Last month, he announced a deal with Australian company Ellume for $231.8 million worth of at-home tests. Meanwhile, some areas have unveiled opt-in testing strategies to monitor infection rates, such as the D.C. school district’s plans to randomly test students.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps a list of guidelines for who needs to get tested for active infections. Such tests require samples from the nose or mouth that are examined for the virus that causes covid-19. The CDC recommends people should get tests who:
●Are showing symptoms of covid-19. Those symptoms include fever, dry coughs, shortness of breath, chills, loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, throat soreness and body aches.
●Have been in close contact with someone else known to have an infection.
●Were advised to get a test by a local or state health official, doctor or other health-care provider.
●Have been in risky environments where exposure is more likely, such as a crowded gathering or when traveling.
There’s an exception to the bullet points above for people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. If you’ve been exposed and you are not showing symptoms, you do not need to get a coronavirus test, according to CDC guidelines released recently.
Yet under some circumstances, tests aren’t optional. International travelers, including U.S. citizens, who enter the United States must produce a negative test within 72 hours before arrival. (Certain airports now offer free on-site testing, too.)
To answer your question: Not absolutely everyone needs tests — but more than those showing symptoms should get them.