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What are CDC’s new covid guidelines? Testing, quarantine, school protocols...

The CDC on Thursday updated its covid-19 guidance, acknowledging that the US population is better equipped to avoid serious illness or death if infected.

Update:
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 06: A view of the sign of Center for Disease Control headquarters is seen in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on August 06, 2022. (Photo by Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its covid-19 guidance on Thursday, in changes that reflect the lower likelihood of serious illness or death at this stage of the pandemic, the agency said.

“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,” said the CDC’s Greta Massetti.

“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. 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.”

According to CDC figures, the US is currently averaging just over 100,000 covid-19 cases and 400 deaths a day.

CDC removes quarantine recommendation

As part of its updated guidance, the CDC no longer recommends staying six feet away from others to reduce transmission, although it notes: “Persons at high risk for severe illness can consider avoiding crowded areas and minimizing direct physical contact, especially in settings where there is high risk for exposure.”

Meanwhile, the CDC has also dropped its recommendation that people who aren’t up-to-date with their vaccinations should quarantine if they come into contact with someone who tests positive for covid-19. Regardless of vaccination status, Americans are now only advised to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day five after exposure.

What to do if you test positive

If you test positive for covid-19, you should still isolate at home for five days. “If after 5 days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and your symptoms are improving, or you never had symptoms, you may end isolation after day 5,” the CDC says.

You should avoid being around people susceptible to severe illness from covid-19 until day 11. You should also wear a mask around others until the end of day 10, the CDC says - unless you return two successive negative antigen tests with at least 48 hours between them.

New recommendations for schools

The CDC’s updated guidance also affects US schools, which are due to return from summer holidays over the coming weeks. As with the general population, the agency says pupils and staff should no longer quarantine if exposed to a positive case.

In addition, the body has dropped its recommendation of daily screening testing in schools, as well as its ‘test to stay’ guidance, which said children could carry on attending class after exposure, as long as they took regular tests. If exposed to the virus, students and staff should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day five.

“Quarantine is a key component to Test to Stay programs,” the CDC said. “Since quarantine is no longer recommended for people who are exposed to covid-19 except in certain high-risk congregate settings, Test to Stay (TTS) is no longer needed. If any school or ECE program chooses to continue requiring quarantine, they may also choose to continue TTS.”

Take a look at the CDC’s updated guidelines in full

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