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CDC recommends shorter COVID isolation, quarantine for all

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Americans recovering from COVID-19 can now get back to normal a little faster.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday cut its recommended isolation period from 10 days to five for those who have just had the bug.

The new isolation guidelines state that after five days, those who no longer have symptoms can return to normal activities — while wearing a mask for at least five more days.

If an infected person still has symptoms after isolating for five days, they should stay home until they feel better and then start the five days of wearing a mask at all times.

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The clock starts the day a person tests positive, and the recommendations apply to both those who are vaccinated and those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

The new guidance comes after the federal health agency last week shortened the suggested amount of time that healthcare workers stay home for from 10 days down to seven, if they test negative and don’t have symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are now recommending people who test positive for COVID-19 to quarantine for five days instead of ten.
AFP via Getty Images

The decisions were driven by a recent surge in cases propelled by the Omicron variant. While the research so far suggests that Omicron causes milder illness than earlier COVID strains, the sheer number of infections is threatening the ability of hospitals and businesses to stay open as people stay home to isolate.

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“Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact, many are going to be asymptomatic,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told The Associated Press on Monday. “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”

Monday’s announcement is also in keeping with growing evidence that people with the virus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop, CDC officials said.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky claimed that the US should expect to see a surge in Omicron variant cases.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky claimed that the US should expect to see a surge in Omicron variant cases.
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
The CDC also recommended shorter quarantine times for those who had close contact with COVID positive people.
The CDC also recommended shorter quarantine times for those who had close contact with COVID-positive people.
Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The guidance is simply a recommendation to employers and state and local officials, not a mandate.

New York state said last week it would expand on the CDC’s guidance for healthcare staff to include other critical workers in sectors that are facing severe staffing shortages.

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