CDC drops 5-day isolation guidelines for people with COVID

CDC drops 5-day isolation guidelines for people with COVID


People who test positive for COVID no longer need to isolate for five days if their symptoms are improving and they no longer have a fever, according to new guidance released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The updated recommendations — which are easier to follow and apply to a range of common respiratory viral illnesses — come as the nation sees “far fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID” as well as an increasing number of tools to combat illnesses caused by viruses such as the coronavirus and influenza.

The major shift in protocol reflects “the progress we have made in protecting against severe illness from COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a statement.

“However, we still must use the commonsense solutions we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious illness from respiratory viruses — this includes vaccination, treatment, and staying home when we get sick,” Cohen added.

According to the simplified guidance, anyone with illnesses caused by a respiratory virus should stay home and isolate from others.

But since widely available treatment can lessen symptoms and lower the risks for severe illness for people with COVID and the flu, health officials now say people can return to normal activities “when, for at least 24 hours, symptoms are improving overall, and if a fever was present, it has been gone without the use of a fever-reducing medication.”

After resuming normal activities, people should take additional prevention strategies — such as wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping distance from others, and enhancing hygiene practices — for the next five days.

That’s especially important to protect those at risk for those most at risk for severe illness, including adults over the age of 65 and those with weakened immune systems, health officials said.

Even though not all respiratory viruses act similarly, adopting a unified approach to limiting disease spread makes recommendations easier to follow — which makes it more likely to be adopted.

While viruses that cause respiratory illnesses remain a public health threat in the U.S., the updated recommendations will ultimately limit the spread of such viruses and mean fewer people who experience severe illness.



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