"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

CDC is officially shortening the really useful COVID isolation period

March 1, 2024 – The CDC updated its guidance on how long people should isolate in the event that they have COVID-19. The latest stay-at-home orders now mirror those for people sick with other viruses, similar to the flu or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Previously, the CDC had urged individuals with COVID to remain home for at the very least five days. However, the brand new instructions suggest staying home for at the very least 24 hours after fever and symptoms subside.

“Today’s announcement reflects the progress we have made in protecting against serious illness from COVID-19,” CDC Director Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, said in a opinion Friday. “However, we must continue to use the common-sense solutions that we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious illness from respiratory viruses – these include vaccinations, treatment and staying home if we get sick.”

Ahead of the announcement, which has been rumored for days, Experts expressed concerns that shortened isolation would cause people to take COVID less seriously and put immunocompromised people at greater risk, and that the change will not be based on latest scientific understanding of virus transmission.

The latest guidelines say individuals who have contracted the virus should stay home and avoid others until 24 hours after they haven't any fever and symptoms have improved. The 24-hour fever-free period only counts when someone stops taking fever-reducing medications like Tylenol.

“This advice is similar to what has been recommended for flu for decades and will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses during the most contagious period after infection,” the said CDC Advisory specified. “Not all respiratory virus infections result in fever. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to other symptoms (cough, muscle aches, etc.) to determine when you are well enough to leave the house. If your symptoms improve and stay better for 24 hours, you will be less likely to spread your infection to others and you will be able to return to your daily routine.”

In its latest guidance, the CDC acknowledged that some people may remain infectious even after isolation ends. In the primary five days after resuming normal activities, people should subsequently wear a mask, improve hygiene similar to washing hands, keep their distance from others and take “more steps for cleaner air”. Special precautions needs to be taken to avoid individuals with weakened immune systems and folks age 65 and older who're at increased risk of severe cases of COVID, the CDC advised.

Most people within the U.S. have some antibodies to COVID, but staying up so far on vaccinations stays the agency's top precaution. People who develop into in poor health with COVID must also consider antiviral medications. Last season, 95% of hospitalizations for COVID occurred in individuals who didn't have vaccinations and weren't taking antiviral medications, the CDC report said.

“The updated guidance change will not significantly increase the community spread of COVID-19 or the severity of disease outcomes,” the CDC predicted in its announcement of the change. “Real-world experience in states such as Oregon and California, as well as countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark, France, Norway and Canada, found no significant change in spread or severe disease following the implementation of similar guidance updates.”

Just over 7% of all COVID tests reported to the CDC were positive within the week ending February 24, and about 17,000 people were newly hospitalized with the disease through the same period, in accordance with the CDC COVID data tracker.