CDC drops 5-day COVID-19 isolation guidance

The U.S. is seeing fewer hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 with the addition of more tools to manage it, like vaccines and medication. In updated respiratory virus guidance published March 1, the CDC stated "it is no longer the emergency that it once was," prompting the agency to drop previous isolation guidance and simplify other recommendations.

"Today's announcement reflects the progress we have made in protecting against severe illness from COVID-19," CDC Director Mandy Cohen, MD, stated in a March 1 update shared with Becker's. "However, we still must use the commonsense solutions we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious illness from respiratory viruses — this includes vaccination, treatment, and staying home when we get sick."

Patients with COVID-19 or flu should return to normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, symptoms show signs of improvement and fever has been gone without the use of medication, according to the new guidance.  

After returning to normal activities, extra measures should be taken for an additional five days, like wearing well-fitted masks, purifying air indoors or gathering outdoors, and keeping a distance from others. Staying up to date on vaccinations is also recommended. 

The CDC notes that the revisions are for community settings only. Respiratory virus recommendations have not changed for healthcare settings.

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