January 24, 2022

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People wait in line at a testing site to receive a free COVID-19 PCR test in Washington, D.C. On Monday, the CDC announced that people can isolate for five days, instead of 10, after they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus and have no symptoms.

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People wait in line at a testing site to receive a free COVID-19 PCR test in Washington, D.C. On Monday, the CDC announced that people can isolate for five days, instead of 10, after they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus and have no symptoms.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

More than 200,000 people are testing positive for COVID-19 in the U.S. each day. Until this week, a positive test meant you should stay home for 10 days to avoid infecting others. Now, those who don’t have symptoms after five days can go back to their regular activities as long as they wear a mask, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The change in guidance released Monday was “motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness,” according to the CDC.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the change was also motivated by economic and societal concerns. “With a really large anticipated number of cases [from omicron], we also want to make sure we can keep the critical functions of society open and operating,” she told NPR on Tuesday. “We can’t take science in a vacuum. We have to put science in the context of how it can be implemented in a functional society.”

Public health experts say a shorter isolation period may be reasonable at this point in the pandemic, but they say the agency’s new guidance is problematic because it relies on people’s self-judgment to assess their transmission risk — and could lead to more spread and more COVID-19 cases if people aren’t careful.

“The CDC is right. The vast majority of the transmissions happen in the first couple of days after the onset of symptoms … but the data shows that about 20 to 40% of people are still going to be able to transmit COVID after five days,” says Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease specialist at UChicago Medicine. “Is that person [leaving isolation after five days] really safe to carpool with or have close contact with or have them take care of your unvaccinated kids?”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the White House chief medical adviser and director of the NIAID, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walensky defends the new CDC isolation and quarantine guidelines, saying she “trusts” the public to follow them.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the White House chief medical adviser and director of the NIAID, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walensky defends the new CDC isolation and quarantine guidelines, saying

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They say the CDC released the current tips, which cuts in 50 percent the advisable occasions for keeping away from other people, with small session or planning.

“We are quite significantly trying to digest it now and what it suggests and how to talk it proficiently,” Lori Freeman, main government officer of the the Countrywide Affiliation of County and City Overall health Officials (NACCHO), explained to CNN on Wednesday.

The confusion has still left the CDC open to accusations that the selection was manufactured based on politics or lobbying stress, Freeman mentioned.

The new pointers for the community, unveiled Monday, let for persons who check beneficial for Covid-19 to depart isolation right after 5 days if their indications are absent or finding greater, so extended as they use masks for at minimum five extra times.

As for quarantine, men and women who have obtained booster doses of vaccine are encouraged that they may safely continue to be out and about, even if exposed to the virus, if they dress in masks for 10 days, and even the unvaccinated may well leave quarantine just after 5 times.

In the previous, and less than previous pandemic programs, this sort of a significant adjust in suggestions would have 1st been run by expert groups this kind of as NACCHO for input. And they would have been diligently defined in the media.

“Possessing created this oversight — I am speaking as someone who has uncovered around the many years — this is just one of the factors the place you keep a information meeting and you sit down and describe every single aspect of it,” claimed Dr. Georges Benjamin, govt director of the American General public Health Association.

“You explain your decision-producing method,” Benjamin informed CNN. “So you say, ‘we are concerned that people won’t be able to get back again to work, that we have wellbeing care personnel sitting down around who are not truly a massive risk to individuals,’ ” Benjamin additional.

Gigi Gronvall, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health and fitness Protection, agreed: “For flu, often like when we had been anxious about pandemic flu, there have been qualified conferences or phone calls … in advance of they were rolled out.”

State and local health and fitness officials are frequently on the entrance line of conversation about new policies, and they acquired no warning or preparing for the most up-to-date update, Freeman claimed. The CDC did not deliver posters, charts or visible aids, or any of the history that may possibly assist communicate the new assistance to the public.

In its place, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Countrywide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disorders, have been defending and explaining the change in television and newspaper interviews this week.

Both equally have claimed, with no supplying knowledge as evidence, that people are not likely to transmit the an infection right after about five times from onset of symptoms.

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