CDC Streamlines COVID Guidelines, Dropping Quarantine, Other Recommendations
ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines Thursday, dropping its recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.
Instead it is urging those who know they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 but not sick themselves to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested after five.
The nation’s top public health agency also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
The guidelines around masking — which recommend that people wear masks indoors in places where community COVID-19 levels are high — have not changed.
The changes are a recognition that the vast majority of Americans — by some accounts upwards of 95% — have either been vaccinated or acquired some level of immunity from being infected.
“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools — like vaccination, boosters and treatments — to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” said Dr. Greta Massetti, the author of the guidelines.
“We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation,” she said. “This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”
The CDC recommends that those who do test positive for COVID-19 stay home for at least five days and isolate from others while in one’s house.
“You are likely most infectious during these first five days. Wear a high-quality mask when you must be around others at home and in public,” the guidance says. “If after five days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and your symptoms are improving, or you never had symptoms, you may end isolation after day five.
“Regardless of when you end isolation, avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11,” it added.
Masks continue to be recommended only in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness.
The average numbers of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths have been relatively flat this summer, at around 100,000 cases a day and 300-400 deaths.