The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that Americans no longer need to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19, a policy shift that rolls back several of the agency’s pandemic recommendations.
The new guidance released Thursday removes the distinction between vaccinated individuals and those who are not up-to-date with their vaccinations, meaning that CDC guidelines are now the same for all individuals.
“CDC now recommends case investigation and contact tracing only in health care settings and certain high-risk congregate settings,” the new guidance begins. “In all other circumstances, public health efforts can focus on case notification and provision of information and resources to exposed persons about access to testing. Persons who have had recent confirmed or suspected exposure to an infected person should wear a mask for 10 days around others when indoors in public and should receive testing ≥5 days after exposure (or sooner, if they are symptomatic), irrespective of their vaccination status.”
“In light of high population levels of anti–SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence, and to limit social and economic impacts, quarantine of exposed persons is no longer recommended, regardless of vaccination status.” the statement writes.
The agency says that individuals exposed to someone with COVID-19 no longer need to be quarantined, and should instead wear a face mask for 10 days and get tested after five days. Those who test positive for the virus should isolate while they are sick and come out of isolation once they test negative.
Additionally, testing to screen people for COVID-19 is no longer recommended for any asymptomatic cases.
The CDC has also ended its test-to-stay strategy, which stated that schoolchildren exposed to the virus must test negative to continue in-person learning at school. The agency also removed the recommendation that children in different classrooms avoid mixing.
The guidance reiterates that the COVID “remains an ongoing public threat” but reiterates that new vaccines, treatments and therapeutics have reduced the risk of severe illness to the point that society can now live with COVID, a sentiment shared with the CDC’s Dr. Greta Massetti.
“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19. We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation,” Massetti said in a statement.
“This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” she added.