It’s a huge shift from guidelines that have been in place since the start of the pandemic.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new COVID guidelines. The agency recommends moving away from restrictive measures. These include removing social distancing and changing quarantine rules.
The huge shift is a sign of how much has changed since the beginning of the pandemic. After two and a half years, almost the entire US population has developed immunity from the virus. People are now immune either through vaccines, previous infection, or, both.
“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” said Greta Massetti, who leads the Field Epidemiology and Prevention Branch at the CDC.
“High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection and the many available tools to protect the general population, and protect people at higher risk, allow us to focus on protecting people from serious illness from COVID-19.”
A rundown of the new COVID guidelines
The CDC has other recommendations besides changes in social distancing and quarantine measures. Here’s a quick rundown on the new COVID guidelines:
Quarantining is no longer necessary if you come into contact with someone with COVID. Instead, the CDC urges those people to wear high-quality masks for 10 days. The new COVID guidelines also state that they should get tested after five days.
Those infected should isolate for at least five days, regardless of vaccination status. People can end isolation after a fever-free 24 hours without medication. They can also end isolation if they no longer have symptoms or if symptoms are improving. Those who continue to feel sick should continue to isolate until tests say otherwise.
Symptoms also play a role in isolation times. Those who have moderate to severe illness or have a weak immune system need to isolate for 10 days. Those with severe illnesses or weak immune systems need to consult their doctors before ending isolation. If symptoms worsen after leaving isolation, people must restart isolation for another 10 days.
The new COVID guidelines also include information about asymptomatic and symptomatic testing. First, the CDC no longer recommends testing asymptomatic people without known exposure. Second, a viral test is mandatory for people with severe illness or weak immune systems before ending isolation.
The US Food and Drug Administration also updated recommendations for how many times people should test. Previous advice for those with exposure was two rapid antigen tests over two or three days. The agency now recommends three tests to rule out infection.
The CDC no longer requires staying six feet away from others in some cases. The new COVID guidelines emphasize that “physical distance is just one component of how to protect yourself and others.”
“It is important to consider the risk in a particular setting, including local COVID-19 Community Levels and the important role of ventilation, when assessing the need to maintain physical distance,” the CDC states.
In it for the long haul
The new COVID guidelines acknowledge that the virus may be around for the long haul. The aim is to help people live their lives with minimal disruptions. People have to learn how to live with COVID while trying to protect themselves and others.