Health, News

CDC changes COVID-19 guidance on quarantine and social distancing

by Kate Evans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new COVID-19 guidance on quarantining and social distancing last Thursday. They recommended that if a person was not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines and was exposed to the virus, that instead of quarantining they should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested for COVID on Day five.

Staying six feet away from others was also dropped from their recommendations. Physical distancing was listed as one mode of protection where individuals would consider the risk in specific settings, the Community COVID transmission levels and ventilation to assess the need for maintaining physical distance.

Testing asymptomatic individuals without known exposures would no longer be recommended in communities. Masks are still encouraged in communities where transmission levels are high or in individuals whose immune systems are weakened or who are at risk of severe illness from COVID.

CDC stance

CDC officials said in their press release that the United States is in a stronger place to protect people and communities from severe illness from COVID. The country has more tools to fight COVID including vaccinations, boosters, high-quality masks, testing, medical treatments and better ventilation than earlier in the pandemic. There is now less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death from the disease, according to the CDC.

While some officials praised the CDC’ s steps to update their recommendations, others had concerns especially with COVID increasing in some communities and the opening of school being right around the corner.

CDC guidelines

Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations to protect yourself against serious illness, hospitalization and death, especially as protection against new variants wanes and new vaccines become available.

Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC advises isolating from others when you have COVID. Also isolate if you’ re sick and suspect you have COVID-19 but don’ t have the test results yet. If you are negative, you can end your isolation.

If your COVID test results are positive, you should stay home for at least five days and isolate yourself from others in your home. Wear a high-quality mask when you must be around others in your home and in public. If results are negative, you can stop your isolation. The FDA now recommends three repeated at-home rapid antigen tests to determine negative results.

If after five days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and your symptoms are improving or you’ve never had symptoms, you may end isolation after Day five. Avoid being around people who are likely to get very sick from COVID until at least Day 11. Wear a high-quality mask through Day 10.

If you had moderate to severe illness from COVID, you should isolate through Day 10. That includes shortness of breath or difficulty breathing or being hospitalized. If you had severe illness or have a weakened immune system, see your physician before ending isolation. A COVID test may be necessary first.

If your symptoms recur or worsen after your isolation is over, begin your isolation again at day zero.

The CDC will continue to focus on preventing severe illness and post-COVID conditions and providing the information and tools for all to lower their risk from COVID, officials said.