CDC to drop COVID-19 5-day isolation guideline: reports

Sick man

Nearly four years after the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may soon drop the advice that people need to stay home for five days after testing positive for the virus.

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The Washington Post reported that the CDC is planning on adjusting the rules to be more in line with those that govern the flu and RSV, agency officials said.

The change comes as most people have some sort of immunity to the virus either through vaccination or having COVID-19 in the past.

“Public health has to be realistic,” infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm told the Post. “In making recommendations to the public today, we have to try to get the most out of what people are willing to do. … You can be absolutely right in the science and yet accomplish nothing because no one will listen to you.”

The proposed guidance is expected to recommend that if someone tests positive for coronavirus, they should use symptoms to determine when to stop isolating. That means someone who is fever-free for at least 24 hours without medication, or if their symptoms are mild and lessening, they can break isolation, the newspaper reported.

The guidelines are more in line with those of California and Oregon, which said that there is no set time for isolation and people without symptoms don’t have to isolate at all, CNN reported last month.

Not everyone agrees with shortening the isolation period.

Lara Jirmanus, a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, told the Post that changing the timeframe, “sweeps this serious illness under the rug,” adding that the coronavirus is deadlier than the flu and brings with it long-term complications.

The White House has not approved the change, which may be released in April for feedback before being adopted. The agency has not commented on the Post’s report. Reuters reached out to the CDC for comment, but as of Tuesday morning had not received a response.

This isn’t the first time the isolation rules have changed. Originally the isolation period was 10 days, but was adjusted to five days in December 2021, the last time the guidelines were changed. Visit the CDC’s website for the most current recommendations.

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