Report: CDC Plans to Cut COVID Isolation Guidelines

'Washington Post' reports that 5-day isolation period will be dropped
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2024 5:56 PM CST
Report: CDC Plans to Cut COVID Isolation Guidelines
COVID-19 antigen home tests indicating a positive result.   (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing to loosen its COVID isolation guidelines for the first time since it cut the recommended isolation time from 10 days to five days in Dec. 2021, the Washington Post reports. The Post, citing "four agency officials and an expert familiar with the discussions," reports that the CDC plans to recommend that people who have tested positive don't need to stay home if they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication. Their symptoms should also be mild and improving. Officials say the new guidance is likely to be released in April.

The Post reports that officials say the proposed symptom-based new guidance, which will bring COVID guidance in line with recommendations on preventing the spread of flu and RSV, recognizes that few people are following the current guidance. Critics, however, say that COVID remains a lot deadlier than the flu, especially among people over 65. According to CDC data, COVID was killing more than 2,000 Americans a week during a surge last month. Officials say the new guidance was in the works months ago but it was delayed as cases rose.

Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the special pathogens program at NYC Health and Hospitals, tells the New York Times that the proposed guidance "sets an unfortunate precedent" from a public health perspective. She says the CDC should "seize this opportunity to truly change how we respond to deadly epidemics and pandemics and advocate for national, guaranteed paid sick and family leave instead of caving into the easier option of eliminating the isolation period." (More COVID-19 stories.)

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