On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced the number of days it recommends for Covid isolation.
In a statement released on Monday, the CDC now recommends that those who test positive for Covid but who are asymptomatic can isolate for five days, down from the previously recommended 10. Once leaving isolation – assuming they are still asymptomatic – the CDC recommends that said patients continue to mask while around others.
For those who are exposed to the coronavirus but are either unvaccinated or six months past their second vaccination dose, the CDC recommends isolating for five days, down from 10. It recommends that exposed individuals get tested at the end of the five days, and that they mask in public after leaving isolation.
Those who are both vaccinated and have received a booster may not have to quarantine, but should continue to mask around others and in public spaces for 10 days.
Should anyone experience Covid symptoms, the CDC recommends immediately isolating until testing negative.
The CDC has based its new recommendation time on the fact that the virus spreads from host to host mostly in the early stages of illness, or the first 1-2 days.
The Center’s latest recommendations “balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
The reduction in isolation time comes as the country sees a surge in cases from the Omicron variant, and as multiple industries, including hospitality and air travel, feel the effects of the latest surge.
The new recommendations also come at a time when the country is experiencing a shortage of Covid tests amid the busy holiday season. The Biden administration has vowed to create more testing sites, in collaboration with FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and local health departments.
Biden has also promised to make at-home tests available in the coming weeks to any American who requests one.