What to Know – NBC Chicago

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its Covid guidelines for 2024, removing the five-day isolation recommendation as the agency said it is intended to provide guidance for other respiratory infections. So what do you need to do if you test positive for Covid?

The change marks the first time the US agency has relaxed its COVID isolation recommendations in three years.

“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 follow,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, CDC director. Could.”

Here's a look at what you need to know:

What are the new CDC guidelines?

The changes mean people can return to work or regular activities if their symptoms are mild and improving and it's been a day since they had a fever, but the CDC is still advising people with symptoms to stay home. gives.

The guidance states, “Recommendations suggest return to normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, there is overall improvement in symptoms, and if fever was present, use of fever-reducing medication.” It's been fine without.”

Once activities resume, the CDC still recommends “additional prevention strategies” for an additional five days, including 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.

As part of the guidance, the CDC suggests:

  • Staying Update with vaccination To protect people from serious illness, hospitalization, and death. This includes flu, COVID-19, and RSV if eligible.
  • practicing good hygiene Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash or sanitize your hands frequently, and clean frequently touched surfaces.
  • Taking steps for clean airSuch as bringing in more fresh air from outside, purifying indoor air, or collecting it outside.

Why are the guidelines changing?

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.

“Although it remains a threat, it is much less likely to cause serious illness today because of widespread immunity and better tools to prevent and treat the disease,” the CDC said. “Importantly, states and countries that have already adjusted the recommended isolation times have not seen an increase in hospitalizations or deaths related to COVID-19.”

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.

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

What does this mean for Illinois?

The Illinois Department of Health has not yet released a statement on the new guidelines, but when reports of possible changes to stores surfaced last month, the department said it was still evaluating its guidelines.

State health officials said they were “aware of the CDC's views on new COVID-19 guidelines and are continuing to evaluate our own statewide guidelines.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health said, “As we work with our federal partners to provide our residents with the most appropriate recommendations moving forward, IDPH is committed to protecting themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19.” “Continues to emphasize the importance of using all preventive tools to save.” Said at that time. “Particularly for people with certain underlying conditions, COVID-19 poses a more serious risk of serious health outcomes than RSV or the flu even today. The lessons we learned during the pandemic ​Remains valuable for COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. This means washing your hands frequently if you have cough/cold/respiratory symptoms and also considering wearing a mask to prevent spreading those germs to others. You should also get tested if you're experiencing symptoms, as this can help you receive sensitive treatments over time. For flu and COVID-19. And, let's not forget vaccinations. These “Vaccination remains the most effective tool to protect you from serious disease caused by respiratory infections.”

What do experts say?

Some experts said the move was not unexpected, but some who understood the rationale for the change were also concerned.

“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 have any Don't be harmed. Their co-workers,” Nuzzo said.

However, others said the guidelines are more “reasonable” for people with more mild disease.

“I think it's to be expected because they're trying to give guidelines that would be reasonable and people will follow them,” Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, director of infection control at Edwards Hospital, told NBC Chicago last month. “We already have guidelines for other viruses like influenza about how long people have to stay home, so they wanted to be consistent with those guidelines and give people appropriate instructions about how to behave.”

“My response was, 'It's about time,' you know? We're going to have to make some changes in terms of these quarantines as we continue to face the COVID pandemic in our country year after year, because it is becoming more dangerous for many people.” Mild disease and now is the time to treat it and treat it like other respiratory viruses that we typically see in the autumn—influenza RSV—more typical periods of infectiousness and periods of isolation,'' Dulli said in Contagion. said Dr. Mia Taormina, disease chair. Health care.

Taormina even said it could make things safer in some cases.

“I would rather people stay home for a day or two, then go back to work or their normal activities on the third or fourth day if they're feeling better, rather than not getting tested at all because they don't want to.” “It is mandatory to stay away from work for five days from your activities,” he said.

But many people still insist it's more important than ever to stay home and wear a mask if you're sick.

Pinsky said, “It's important to know that once you have COVID or any other virus, you can still spread it, especially in those first few days. And so to protect other people “It will still be important to wear masks.” “If you are leaving your home, especially if it's only a day or two after infection, you will still be infectious. So it's important to wear a mask for the full 10 days to protect other people.”

“We are not saying that it is less contagious, that we can go out and move around – it is only for those whose symptoms are improving. Otherwise healthy hosts, after the fever is over, their are less likely to be contagious and their symptoms are getting better,” Taormina said. “So with some mask-wearing and choosing our activities, we should be in a better place… The message remains the same. If you're not feeling well, stay home.”

What were the previous Covid protocols?

Here are the protocols listed previously by the agency:

Regardless of vaccination status, you should stay away from others if you have COVID-19, the CDC reports.

If you are sick and suspect you have COVID-19, but do not yet have the test results, you should still isolate. If your results are negative, you can end that isolation.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay home and isolate from others in your household for at least five days. The CDC notes that people “are probably most infectious during these first five days.”

When you have COVID-19, isolation is counted in days, as follows:

If you had no symptoms:

  • Day 0 is the day you were tested (not the day you received your positive test result)
  • Day 1 is the first full day after the day you are tested
  • If you develop symptoms within 10 days of testing, the clock restarts on day 0 on the day symptoms started

If you had symptoms:

  • Day 0 of isolation is the day symptoms started, regardless of when you tested positive
  • Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started

Other guidance for those who test positive:

  • Wear a high-quality mask if you have to be around others at home and in public.
  • Do not go to places where you are unable to wear a mask.
  • Stay at home as much as possible and stay away from others.
  • Do not share personal household items such as cups, towels and utensils.
  • Keep track of your symptoms. If you have any emergency warning signs (such as trouble breathing), get emergency medical care right away.

If you had no symptoms, you can end your isolation after the fifth day, but that line may be different for people who experience symptoms, notes the CDC.

People who have mild symptoms can end isolation after the fifth day if they are fever-free for 24 hours, without using fever-reducing medication, but people with more moderate or severe illnesses should wait until the 10th day. will be.

People who have mild symptoms and are not improving should wait until those symptoms improve and they are fever-free for 24 hours.

People with more severe illness may also want to consult their doctor before ending isolation and may require viral testing before ending their isolation period.

Even after isolation ends, people who test positive should stay away from other people and wear a mask for at least 11 days, according to CDC guidelines.

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