The guidelines have been the same for nearly two years: if you test positive for COVID, you must isolate for at least 10 days. Then there was Omicron, a novel variety that was significantly more transmissible (though, it appears, not as dangerous). Omicron has already resulted in events being canceled or drastically altered. (Of course, Fox News was eager to disseminate falsehoods about it as well.) Now, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made a major change, but it’s not what you’d expect: they’ve decreased the suggested isolation period in half.
According to CNN, the CDC has reduced the time an infected individual must conceal from the rest of humanity from ten to only five days. There are a few stipulations. Only if no symptoms remain can one return to the outside world. Give it some more time if you still have a fever. For at least five days, a mask is also recommended. (Though you’re probably not a snowflake who gets upset about wearing a small protective covering over one’s lips; think of all the other diseases you may be avoiding!)
What if you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID? You, on the other hand, isolate for the same amount of time: five days.
“Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others,” the organization said in a statement.
What was the catalyst for the change? Part of the reason for this is because SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the illness, usually one to two days before symptoms appear and then for two or three days afterward. That adds up to a philanthropic five days of withdrawing from society in order to avoid infecting others.
Some of the CDC’s other guidelines were also eased. If quarantining for five days is not possible, donning a mask anytime one is among people should suffice. You don’t need to quarantine if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID and have been vaccinated and boosted. You should, however, still wear a mask. After all, you’ll have to get used to them for a little longer.