The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the recommended time for isolation and quarantine periods for those infected with or exposed to the coronavirus.
The CDC’s updated guidelines come as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads across the nation.
CDC has shortened the recommended time for #COVID19 isolation and quarantine. Learn more about what to do if you test positive or have close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19: https://t.co/ScxsyrZI16.
— CDC (@CDCgov) December 27, 2021
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said:
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.
Isolation is recommended for those who test positive for coronavirus. If an individual tests positive but is asymptomatic, they may leave home after five days. The CDC recommends individuals wear masks for the next five days when around others. Prior CDC guidelines recommended ten days of isolation.
These isolation guidelines apply to all individuals, regardless of their vaccination status.
The CDC attributed its change in policy to a change in the science. The agency said, “the change is 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.”
Today, @CDCgov released updates to shorten the recommended time for #COVID19 isolation and quarantine. People are maximally infectious 1-2 days before symptom onset & 2-3 days after. This science & protection provided by vaccination & boosters informed the updated recommendation. https://t.co/iU7btjjy4K
— Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH (@CDCDirector) December 27, 2021
Additionally, the CDC updated its guidelines on quarantine, which is recommended when individuals are exposed to the coronavirus. The updated quarantine rules hinge on someone’s vaccination status.
For fully-boosted individuals, the CDC does not recommend quarantine when exposed to someone with coronavirus. Instead, the agency recommends wearing a mask around others for ten days and testing on the fifth day.
The CDC now places vaccinated, yet not boosted, individuals in the same camp as those who are unvaccinated. The guidelines for these people are similar to the updated isolation guidelines. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated people exposed to the coronavirus stay at home for five days and then wear a mask around others for the next five days. In addition, the agency also recommends testing on the fifth day of quarantine.
According to the CDC:
Data from South Africa and the United Kingdom demonstrate that vaccine effectiveness against infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is approximately 35%. A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%.
Both the fully-boosted and unvaccinated are recommended to get a test and stay home if symptoms develop at any point during quarantine.
“These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives,” Walensky said.
Monday’s decision from the CDC comes less than a week after the agency cut the amount of isolation time for symptomatic health care workers from ten days down to seven.
Many hospitals across the country worried that they would have staffing crises as the omicron variant led to lengthy isolation and quarantine periods for their workers. Some people perceived the CDC’s decision as caving to pressure from business interests. However, American University public health law expert Lindsay Wiley said that health experts have been calling for this change in policy for months.