The CDC May Issue New COVID-19 Isolation Rules

The CDC May Issue New COVID-19 Isolation Rules

According to the current rules, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) instructs people to isolate themselves for at least five days once they test positive for COVID-19. That may change in the coming months because the CDC may issue new guidelines. The new guidelines would depend on symptoms and not merely a positive test result. This marks a shift from how people currently attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The new guidelines state that you can end isolation if you are fever-free for 24 hours and have mild or improving symptoms. Changes to existing guidelines would not go into effect until at least April, which is the end of respiratory viral season. Health experts agree that that is a wise choice, given the presence of influenza, RSV, general viruses, and COVID strains that are currently circulating. This would be a big transition from current protocols, with some arguing that the newer guidelines are dangerous. Others agree that not everyone can afford to isolate. Here’s how infectious disease experts feel about the potential upcoming changes. 

New Guidelines Rely On Personal Responsibility

Most infectious disease experts agree that you should not go to work when you are sick, no matter what sickness you have. Taking time to rest and heal is paramount, and not going to work helps reduce the spread of whatever virus you have. Changing COVID-19 isolation guidelines, then, essentially normalizes COVID-19, along with other viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses. 

It is up to the individual to be responsible and honest about symptoms. If the symptoms are bad, they should not go out in public. When symptoms improve, they should continue to take precautions, like wearing a mask inside public spaces, for example. Once the person does not have a fever and symptoms are either improving or generally mild, experts agree that it is reasonable to return back to the outside world. It is, however, possible that the new guidelines will suggest people to wear masks upon returning to work. 

The new guidelines also take into account that more people are protected against severe disease or hospitalization and death. Gone are the early days of the pandemic, when most people didn’t have any immune protection. Infectious disease specialists agree that people have built up a certain level of community immunity, so the new guidelines seem reasonable. 

The Change Addresses The Fact That Most People Cannot Miss Five Days Of Work

If the person works from home, which became a popular method of employment during the pandemic, then missing work doesn’t really factor into the equation. You don’t have to leave your house, therefore you don’t have to worry about infecting fellow employees. If people work in an office or in a physical location, missing work for five days may not be easy or possible. Plus, people tend to rely on at-home testing more so than a test from a doctor’s office. 

Many employers may not be willing to accept an at-home test as a reliable confirmation of COVID-19 infection. A test may be required from a doctor, so it is harder for people to abide by at-home isolation requirements these days. 

Could New Guidelines Threaten High-Risk People?

In some places, more so than others, COVID cases have dropped this year. Additionally, experts note that those who contract the virus have had lower severity of significant illness. That said, some people continue to experience complications, such as severe disease, that require hospitalization, or symptoms from long COVID. Is it true that many people recover just fine from COVID without serious symptoms? Yes, but people with weak immunity, even if they got the vaccine and boosters, may not have a protective immune response against the virus. 

That means that a significant number of people have an increased risk of severe symptoms that result from COVID-19 infection. Because of that, it is the responsibility of the people with stronger immunity to take precautions if symptoms are mild. Wear a mask in public if you don’t have a fever and are no longer isolating. That can go a long way in limiting the spread of the virus to people who are highly vulnerable. 

There is still a risk to reentering the public with active COVID-19 infection. Infectious disease experts hope that masking becomes more of a norm if people come out of isolation with mild symptoms. Masking is more commonplace in other countries, but there is still a general stigma around it in the United States. If you do not feel well enough to go out, wear a mask so that you don’t spread whatever you have to your loved ones, coworkers, or community. 

COVID-19 Isn’t Gone

COVID-19 is not gone forever if the CDC changes its guidelines. Many experts agree that COVID is here to stay, and the public needs to understand that, even if it isn’t the primary news story. Do all that you can to protect and care for yourself and others, especially those who have weaker immune systems or existing health conditions. All experts can do is encourage people to do the right thing, but it will be interesting to see what the CDC’s new guidelines are and how they affect the spread and infection rates. Even though COVID-19 may soon be viewed as an endemic disease, it is by no means an insignificant illness.



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