The agency has been criticized for its shortened recommended isolation period without asking people to get tested
Gee, which one would you prefer? Being taken care of by someone who is exhausted and could potentially still be infected with the SARS-CoV-2? Or by someone a little more well-rested who is definitely not infected with the SARS-CoV-2?
The guidelines now say that an individual who “has access to a test and wants to test” at the end of the isolation period may do so, but stops short of a recommendation to test.
To top it all off, the guidelines themselves are still complicated. We’ll start by laying them out. Then, we’ll explain their limitations, and how you might think about them in your own life.
Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.
The federal government released new recommendations last month for unvaccinated students exposed to the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those students could remain in school, as long as they are tested for the virus twice in the week after exposure and both tests come back negative.
In general, asymptomatic HCP who have had a higher-risk exposure do not require work restriction if they have received all COVID-19 vaccine doses, including booster dose, as recommended by CDC and do not develop symptoms or test positive for SARS-CoV-2. The duration of protection offered by booster doses of vaccine and their effect on emerging variants are not clear; additional updates will be provided as more information becomes available.
“Every expert has been calling for shorter isolation times, so it’s a good move, but it’s shortsighted not to apply this more broadly: schools, colleges, sports, Broadway, restaurants, airlines,” said Joseph Allen, an associate professor at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University. “All are facing this same problem with having to isolate people for extended periods without the option to ‘test to return.’”
What experts say about new C.D.C. rules and rising case numbers.
"CDC's new guidance to drop isolation of positives to 5 days without a negative test is reckless," tweeted Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and chief scientific officer at eMed. "I absolutely don't want to sit next to someone who turned [positive] five days ago and hasn't tested [negative]."
But given that many employers rely on the CDC’s guidelines for when workers can return to their jobs after catching COVID, there’s a good chance these new, looser rules are going to result in more infections, which could end up disrupting people’s lives and businesses just as much as requiring infected individuals to test negative or stay home a couple extra days. The CDC’s nonsense justifications don’t make that any less of a frustrating reality.
European governments are relaxing some quarantine requirements to help keep daily life open with new Covid-19 infections surging, while the top U.S. infectious-disease expert suggested health authorities might tighten isolation measures.
Director Rochelle Walensky acknowledged that the decision to shorten the recommended isolation period “really had a lot to do with what we thought people would be able to tolerate.”
Infectious people need to isolate as long as they are infectious, no longer and no less, and we need more accurate means to make those judgments.
Covid is changing right before our eyes. We need to adapt along with it.