In late December, the CDC shortened its suggested isolation time for those with COVID. Before, they recommended ten days of isolation after the onset of symptoms or a positive test. Now, though, they’ve cut that time in half.
More specifically, the CDC urges everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to isolate for five days. Then, if they have no symptoms and are fever-free they can break isolation. However, the CDC says those people should wear a mask around others for the next five days.
At first, the CDC offered this guidance for adults. More recently, they’ve also broadened their shorter isolation period to include children. According to The New York Post, some parents in the NYC area are happy to hear this. NYC houses the nation’s largest school system.
That system’s student body has been hit hard by the omicron variant. As a result, many students were missing up to two weeks of school. Now, though, they’ll miss fewer days.
At the same time, many parents don’t want to see their kids face harsher COVID restrictions than adults. They note that kids are reportedly at lower risk than adults, generally speaking.
However, not everyone is happy to hear that the CDC shortened isolation times. The American Medical Association spoke out against the initial change. AMA president Gerald Harmon called the move “confusing” and said that it put more lives at risk.
When the CDC shortened isolation time, they did not say that people should test negative before coming out of isolation. This lack of guidance is at the center of much of the critique surrounding this move.
It is important to note that the CDC’s guidance on isolation time is not law. Each city and state are able to make their own ruling on how long someone has to stay away from others after getting a positive test.
CDC Director Defends Move to Shorten Isolation Time
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky appeared on the Today Show to talk about shortened isolation times Friday. While on the show Walensky told Savannah Guthrie, “If you are infected, you are most contagious in the one to two days prior to your symptoms and the two to three days after your symptoms. So, we know that the vast majority of your contagiousness by day five is really behind you.”
Walensky also noted that we’re seeing a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations. “We have to do everything we can to address that surge. We continue, at CDC, to update our guidance in the context of evolving science, of evolving epidemiology, and what is practical and feasible in collaboration with our public health partners.”
To keep kids safe in school, Walensky recommends vaccinating all children who are able to be vaccinated and making sure they wear masks while in school.