Dec 27, 2021 - Health

CDC cuts COVID isolation period recommendation in half

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

CDC director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The CDC on Monday shortened its recommended isolation time for people who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five days if they're asymptomatic.

The big picture: Industries across the country are strained with employees in quarantine as Omicron cases surge. The new guidance seeks to balance "what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses," per CDC director Rochelle Walensky.

  • The new guidance goes a step further than last week's recommendation for health care workers, which shortened their isolation from 10 days to seven days if they're asymptomatic.

Zoom in: The updated guidance advises that after the recommended isolation period, people should wear face masks for at least five days to "minimize the risk of infecting others."

  • The CDC also shortened the quarantine period for those exposed to the virus who are unvaccinated or haven't received a booster to five days, followed by "strict mask use."
  • Those have received a booster do not need to isolate after exposure but "should wear a mask for 10 days."

What they're saying: "The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society," Walensky said in a statement.

  • "Prevention is our best option," she added. "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."
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