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Home Health C.D.C. Eases Covid Guidelines, Noting Virus Is ‘Here to Stay’

C.D.C. Eases Covid Guidelines, Noting Virus Is ‘Here to Stay’

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed Covid-19 guidelines on Thursday, freeing schools and businesses from the responsibility of requiring unvaccinated people exposed to the virus to quarantine at home.

The change is a sharp departure from measures that have polarized much of the country, such as social distancing requirements and quarantines, and effectively acknowledges how many Americans have weathered the pandemic for some time. The agency’s actions will take place as children across the country return to school and many offices reopen.

“We know Covid-19 is here to stay,” CDC epidemiologist Greta Masetti said at a news briefing Thursday. The many tools available to protect us from serious illness and death have put us in a different place.”

The CDC’s new guidelines come after a two-year-long pandemic that has killed more than one million Americans. Due to the spread of his Omicron, a highly contagious BA.5 subvariant, he has recorded an average of more than 100,000 cases and nearly 500 deaths per day in the United States.

But many Americans abandoned practices like social distancing, quarantine, and wearing masks long ago.

Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, said referring to the CDC, “I think they’re trying to accommodate the reality that the public is pretty much coping with this pandemic. ‘ said.

Officials have been working on the new guidance for months, building on previous recommendations issued in February when officials cut quarantine times for many Americans. He said many Americans have some protection against the virus and is now making changes as treatments, vaccines and boosters are available to reduce the risk of serious illness. .

This change shifts much of the responsibility for risk mitigation from institutions to individuals. The CDC no longer recommends that people keep her 6 feet away from others. Instead, they point out that avoiding crowded places and maintaining a distance from others are strategies you might want to consider to reduce risk.

Recommended prevention strategies also eliminate the need to distinguish between those who are up-to-date on immunizations and those who are not, simplifying a complex set of rules that schools and businesses find difficult to navigate. has been changed.

According to new guidelines, people exposed to the virus no longer need to be quarantined at home, regardless of their vaccination status, but must wear a mask for 10 days and be tested for the virus on the fifth day. I have. In most situations, contact tracing and routine surveillance testing of asymptomatic people is no longer recommended.

The recommendations prioritize prevention of serious illness rather than focusing on slowing transmission of the virus. They emphasize the importance of vaccination and other preventive measures, such as antiviral treatment and ventilation.

Mask guidelines — which recommend wearing masks indoors where Covid-19 levels are high in the community — have not changed.

Also, anyone who tests positive for the virus should be quarantined at home for at least five days. People who are moderately or severely ill or who are immunocompromised should be quarantined for up to 10 days.

The agency also addressed rebound infections that some people reported after taking the antiviral treatment Paxlovid. If symptoms return, people should isolate and restart the clock, the CDC says.

Many health experts have hailed the new guidelines as representing a pragmatic approach to coexisting with the virus in the long term.

“I think this is a welcome change,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It really shows how far we’ve come.”

The new guidelines will also be easier for the general public to follow, he added.

But experts say the pandemic isn’t over yet, and any new variants or future surges may require more stringent measures.

Nearly all Americans are now eligible to be vaccinated, but many do not have the latest immunizations. Nationwide, 30% of children aged 5-11 and 60% of children aged 12-17 receive the primary vaccine series. Of her adults aged 65 and over who are most at risk of severe disease, 65% have received boosters. Critical therapies such as antiviral treatments remain difficult to access for many.

Jennifer Nuzzo, Director of the Pandemic Center at Brown University School, said: of public health. “I think there was a whole dial-back of the ground game needed to get people vaccinated.”

This guidance has moved from large population-level precautions to more targeted advice for vulnerable populations and specific high-risk situations and situations.

For example, the guidelines note that surveillance testing may be considered in certain scenarios, such as when students return from school closures or students participating in contact sports.

Unvaccinated students exposed to the virus will no longer need to be tested as often to stay in the classroom. This is an approach known as “testing to stay”. The CDC no longer recommends a practice known as cohorting, where schools divide students into smaller groups and limit contact between students to reduce the risk of catching the virus.

Health experts said the change in guidance would be particularly welcome as students return to school, an environment in which isolation has been particularly disruptive.

“This really helps to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on education,” said Christina Ramirez, a biostatistician at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mercedes Carneson, an epidemiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said even the abolition of quarantine in favor of wearing masks for 10 days doesn’t see the change as an easing of the agency’s guidance.

“Wearing a high-quality mask certainly helps prevent the spread to others. Quarantine is logistically taxing,” she said. It may be viewed, but I think it’s a better and more targeted solution.”

Joseph Allen, a Harvard University researcher who studies indoor environmental quality, praised new guidelines that put more emphasis on improving ventilation.

“Good ventilation is something that helps reduce the risk of contagion that isn’t political and doesn’t require behavioral change,” he said.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg Reports Contributed

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