The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its coronavirus guidelines to end the differentiation of the unvaccinated.
Released Thursday, the new guidelines make a variety of changes that would have been unthinkable a year or even six months ago, including a lift on mandatory quarantines for individuals exposed to the virus, an end to screening people with no symptoms, and the elimination of testing recommendations after potential exposure. Contact tracing will also be limited to hospitals and high-risk groups living in nursing homes.
The most surprising change is perhaps the CDC’s regard for treating the unvaccinated. Per NPR:
It also brings the recommendations for unvaccinated people in line with people who are fully vaccinated – an acknowledgment of the high levels of population immunity in the U.S., due to vaccination, past COVID-19 infections or both.
Greta Massetti, Branch Chief for Field Epidemiology and Prevention, said in a statement that the new guidelines should help Americans move to an era where the virus no longer intrudes upon their daily lives.
“This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” said Massetti. “We know that COVID 19 is here to stay.”
“High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection and the many available tools to protect the general population, and protect people at higher risk, allow us to focus on protecting people from serious illness from Covid-19,” she added.
Massetti also said that the latest shows that around 95 percent of the population has achieved some sort of immunity.
Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told NPR that the new guidelines show the CDC’s willingness to have individuals make their own decisions about handling the virus.
“That is consistent with where we are in the pandemic right now,” he said. “I don’t really think there are many state or local jurisdictions that are feeling they’re going to need to start making mandates.”
Some of the original guidelines to remain are the CDC’s encouragement for testing people with symptoms as well as a five-day at-home quarantine. People infected with the virus are also encouraged to wear masks around people for ten days.