CDC Drops Quarantine, Testing Recommendations for COVID-19

NEW YORK — The nation’s top public health agency on Thursday relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people don’t need to be at least six feet from other people.

The changes are driven by a recognition that — more than 2 1/2 years since the start of the pandemic — an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected, agency officials said.

“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” said the CDC’s Greta Massetti, an author of the guidelines.

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These CDC recommendations are applicable to all Americans, but they could have a particular impact on schools. Schools in many areas of the United States will resume classes in this month’s CDC regions.

Officials said that the most significant education change was the removal of school routine daily testing. However, it can still be used in some cases when there is a high incidence of infections.

The CDC also dropped a “test-to-stay” recommendation, which said students exposed to COVID-19 could regularly test — instead of quarantining at home — to keep attending school. The testing option was also eliminated as there is no recommendation for quarantine.

If a person has a high chance of developing severe illnesses or is in an area where transmission to the community is likely to be high, masks should still be used.

Since the CDC released its guidelines, schools across America have had to reduce their COVID-19 precautions.

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Masks will be optional in most school districts when classes resume this fall, and some of the nation’s largest districts have dialed back or eliminated COVID-19 testing requirements.

Others have begun to move away from stay-and-test programs which were difficult to administer during the Omicron strain’s surges in last year. Due to the emergence of new infections in students and staff members, schools had difficulty tracking and testing their contacts. This led to some temporary returns to remote classrooms.

This summer’s average COVID-19 deaths and cases has been fairly flat at approximately 100,000 per day, and between 300 and 400 deaths.

The CDC stated previously that if someone who is not current on COVID-19 vaccines comes into contact with a positive person, then they must stay at home for at most five days. Although quarantining is no longer necessary, the CDC advises that people who have not received their COVID-19 vaccinations wear high-quality masks for at least 10 day and then get tested.

The agency advises that anyone who tests positive for a virus should be isolated from the rest of their family and friends for at most five days. This applies regardless of whether or how many vaccines they received. Officials from the CDC advise people to end isolation if they feel well enough and are not symptomatic for at least 24 hours.

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