U.S. authorities soften measures to combat COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed its recommendations for COVID-19 prevention by eliminating quarantine requirements for close contact with an infected person.
It also stated that strangers are no longer required to be at least six feet apart.
The rule changes stem from the recognition that in the more than 2.5 years since the pandemic began, 95 percent of Americans ages 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either through vaccination or contamination, agency officials said.
“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” said CDC recommendation author Greta Massetti.
The CDC’s recommendations apply to everyone in the United States, but the changes could be especially important for schools, which resume classes this month in many parts of the country.
Perhaps the biggest change for schools is the elimination of the recommendation for daily testing, although the practice may be reinstated in certain situations during a spike in infections, officials said.
The CDC is also rescinding the recommendation that students be tested regularly instead of staying home in quarantine after exposure to COVID-19.
Masks are still recommended only in areas where COVID-19 rates remain high or for those at high risk of severe illness.
In recent weeks, school districts across the country relaxed COVID-19 precautions even before the CDC relaxed its recommendations.
The average number of reported cases and deaths from COVID-19 this summer in the United States has been relatively stable: about 100,000 cases per day and 300-400 deaths.
The CDC previously recommended staying home for at least five days for those who had not been vaccinated and had been in contact with an infected person. Now the agency says quarantine at home is not necessary, but encourages people in such cases to wear a high-quality mask (N95 or equivalent) for 10 days and be tested after five days.
The agency goes on to say that people who test positive should be isolated from their surroundings for at least five days, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. The CDC advises that isolation should be discontinued if the person has no fever for 24 hours without the use of medication, no other symptoms, or if the symptoms go away.