The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that individuals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 should isolate for a recommended five days — shortening the pre-existing recommendation from a 10-day quarantine — so long as the individuals are no longer showing symptoms.
“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society. CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses,” CDC director Dr.Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
“These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives,” she added. “Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
According to a press release issued by the CDC, the updated advice was “motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”
The CDC said that asymptomatic individuals “may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.”
The agency also said that individuals who were exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case may also shorten their isolation time.
For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days.
Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure. Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure.
If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
The announcement comes after President Joe Biden admitted that there was “no federal solution” to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the CDC announced that healthcare workers who had tested positive could cut their quarantine time, prompting some like Dr. Nichole Saphier to question why everybody couldn’t have a decreased quarantine time.
“CDC shortens isolation time for health care workers who test positive for COVID-19. What about everyone else?” Saphier tweeted. “If the data support shortening for health care workers, why not other workers? Everyone is essential.”
NOW: CDC shortens isolation time for health care workers who test positive for COVID-19.
What about everyone else? If the data support shortening for health care workers, why not other workers? Everyone is essential.
— Nicole Saphier, MD (@NBSaphierMD) December 23, 2021