U.S. health officials shorten COVID-19 isolation time
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says if you test positive for COVID-19, you no longer need to isolate for 10 days—five will do just fine. The federal health agency similarly shortened the time that close contacts of a COVID-19 case need to quarantine. Health officials say the shortened time frame aligns with evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. Last week, the agency shortened from 10 days to seven the isolation time that healthcare workers who test positive must stay home, provided they test negative and have no symptoms before returning to work. And at facilities with staffing shortages, the isolation period could be five days or even fewer.
What prompted the new guidance? CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the country is about to see a surge of omicron cases, although many will be mild or asymptomatic. Long isolation requirements could cripple the ability of hospitals, airlines, and other businesses to function, and Walensky said on Monday that officials want to make sure “we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.” According to tracking service FlightAware, airlines have canceled 4,000 U.S. flights since Friday amid an ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases.
Dig deeper: Read Carolina Lumetta’s report in The Sift about President Joe Biden’s plan to provide 500 million free rapid COVID-19 tests to Americans.
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