US health officials end 5-day isolation period for COVID-19 – Albert Lea Tribune

US health officials reduce 5-day isolation time for COVID-19

Published 1:18 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

NEW YORK — U.S. health officials announced Friday that Americans who test positive for COVID-19 are no longer required to isolate for five days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is changing its long-standing guidance, saying people can return to work or regular activities if their symptoms are mild and improving and it's been one day since they had a fever .

This change comes at a time when COVID-19 is no longer the public health threat it used to be. It dropped from being the third leading cause of death in the country at the beginning of the pandemic to 10th last year.

Most people have some degree of immunity to the coronavirus from previous vaccinations or infections. And some experts say many people aren't following the five-day isolation guidelines anyway.

“Our goal here is to continue to protect people at risk for serious disease, while also reassuring people that these recommendations are simple, clear, easy to understand and can be followed,” said CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen. Could.”

However, some experts worry that the change could increase the risk of infection in people who are at higher risk of developing severe disease.

Why are the guidelines changing?

COVID-19 is not causing as many hospitalizations and deaths as it did in the early years of the pandemic. The change is an effort to streamline the recommendations so that they are similar to long-standing recommendations for flu and other respiratory viruses. Officials say many people with a runny nose, cough or other symptoms are not getting tested to find out whether it is COVID-19, the flu or something else.

Dr. David Margolius, head of Cleveland's health department, said it may not be as strict, but still emphasizes that all people with respiratory symptoms should stay home if they are sick.

There has been no recent change in the science about how long people with COVID-19 may remain contagious, said Jennifer Nuzzo, director of the pandemic center at Brown University's School of Public Health.

“What has changed is how much COVID is hurting us as a population,” Nuzzo said.

What are the new guidelines?

If you have symptoms, stay home until your symptoms become mild and improve and it has been one day since you had a fever. But you can still remain cautious by wearing a mask and maintaining distance from others.

However, there is no change in the guidelines for nursing homes and health care facilities.

The agency is stressing that people should still try to prevent infection first by getting vaccinated, washing hands and taking steps to get more outdoor fresh air.

Is there opposition to this change?

Yes, and even some people who understand the rationale for the change have concerns.

“My biggest concern in all of this is that employers will make this change in guidance for employees to return to work… before they are ready, before they feel well enough, and before they can tell their peers. Do not be likely to cause harm. -Laborers,” Nuzzo said.

Is this the first change in COVID-19 isolation guidelines?

No. The CDC originally recommended 10 days of isolation, but reduced it to five days in late 2021 for Americans who are infected with the coronavirus and have no symptoms or only brief illnesses. Under that guidance, isolation ends only if a person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and if other symptoms are resolving.

At the time, agency officials said the changes were made in light of evidence that people with the coronavirus were most infectious two days before and three days after developing symptoms.

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