CDC eases COVID guidelines, eliminates quarantine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 community and school guidance on Thursday, loosening several key recommendations.
According to the new guidelines, people who have been exposed to the virus are no longer required to quarantine at home, regardless of vaccination status, although they must wear a mask for 10 days and get tested for the virus on the 5th day. Routine surveillance testing for people without symptoms is not recommended in most settings.
People who test positive for the virus must still isolate at home for at least five days, and the guidelines around masking – which recommend that people stay indoors in those places Wearing a mask where community COVID-19 levels are high – has not changed.
Officials and experts said the changes signal a new phase of the pandemic.
“We know that COVID-19 is here to stay,” CDC epidemiologist Greta Masetti said at a news briefing on Thursday. “The high levels of population immunity due to vaccination and past infections, and the many tools we have available to protect people from serious illness and death, put us in a different place.”
The new guidelines are designed to protect people from serious illness, Dr. Masetti said. They stress the importance of vaccination and other measures including antiviral treatment and ventilation.
Many health experts praised the new guidelines as representing a practical approach to living with the virus for a long time. “I think it’s a welcome change,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It really shows how far we have come.”
But the pandemic was not over, he noted, and more stringent measures may be needed in the event of new variants or a future surge.
With the rapidly spreading BA.5 version of Omicron in March, the United States is recording an average of more than 100,000 cases a day and nearly 500 deaths.
And while nearly all Americans are now eligible for vaccination, many are not up-to-date on their shots. Only 30 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 and 60 per cent of children aged 12 to 17 have received their primary vaccine series nationwide. Among adults age 65 and older, who are at highest risk of serious disease, 65 percent have received a booster.
It is difficult for many people to access important treatments such as antiviral treatments.
“Obviously, we have to do more work to make sure that more people get the most out of the security of those devices and that more people can access those devices,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, director of the Epidemiology Center at Brown University School. of public health. “I think there has been an overall dial-back in the ground game that is needed to get people vaccinated.”