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Laboratory, Provider Organizations Urge HHS to Update COVID-19 Testing Prioritization Guidelines

NEW YORK – Seven healthcare organizations have sent a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services requesting the agency update COVID-19 testing prioritization guidelines.

The organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the Association for Molecular Pathology, and the College of American Pathologists, urged HHS in its letter dated Aug. 11 to update the guidelines to give priority to patients with medically indicated need, such as patients with symptoms and known exposures to the virus, and people identified by public health surveillance efforts.

As healthcare facilities begin to perform non-essential procedures that were delayed by the pandemic, "laboratories are struggling to accommodate demand for pre-procedure COVID-19 testing," the letter said. Supply chain issues are also impacting supplies for other molecular tests, delaying those tests further, the organizations added.

Updating the prioritization guidelines would also ensure that patients with medically indicated need will have access to tests they need, especially as demand for testing of asymptomatic people increases with returns to work and school, the letter said.

"Without improvement in available supplies, we simply do not have the resources to meet the huge demand for testing by asymptomatic individual without exposure to COVID-19," the organization wrote. They recommended the use of rapid screening tests to help with asymptomatic screenings and public health surveillance efforts without placing strain on PCR tests.