Aug 11, 2022 - Health

CDC loosens guidance on quarantining, social distancing for COVID-19

A sign informs golfers to practice social distancing at the Mt. Prospect Golf Club on May 1, 2020, in Mt. Prospect, Ill. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new COVID-19 guidance Thursday, loosening recommendations that have been in place since the onset of the pandemic.

Why it matters: The shift marks a significant change in how the nation deals with COVID-19 more than two years after the pandemic began. A majority of Americans are now fully vaccinated against the virus or have been exposed to it.

Be smart: The CDC is now putting more emphasis on personal choices to make informed decisions to protect oneself and others from severe illness, including by vaccination and masking.

Details: The agency is relaxing both quarantine and social distancing guidance.

  • Unvaccinated people who are exposed to COVID-19 are no longer advised to quarantine for five days if they have not tested positive for the virus or are not showing symptoms.
  • Instead, aligning with the same rules as for vaccinated individuals, the CDC now suggests wearing a high-quality mask for 10 days and getting tested on day 5.
  • The agency is also no longer emphasizing social distancing as a key method to reduce the risk of exposure.
  • Screening testing of asymptomatic people without known exposures is also no longer recommended in most community settings, the CDC said.

What they're saying: "COVID-19 continues to circulate globally, however, with so many tools available to us for reducing COVID-19 severity, there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic," the agency said.

By the numbers: About 67% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • 79% have received at least one dose.
  • 32% have received an additional vaccine dose or a booster dose.
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