Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve lived with the directive that, if we’re exposed to the virus, we need to quarantine. Originally, the quarantine time was 14 days; then the CDC reduced that time to 10 days.
Omicron has proven to be a game-changer again, as the CDC has further revised quarantine recommendations in light of the fast-spreading and less virulent variant.
The announcement came on Monday that asymptomatic people who have tested positive for COVID-19 now only need to quarantine for five days, followed by another five days of mask-wearing around others.
“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after,” reads the CDC’s statement. “Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.”
The quarantine rules apply to unvaccinated individuals as well as those who are six months or longer past their vaccination (or two months for the Johnson & Johnson shot). Individuals who are boostered don’t need to quarantine at all, according to the new recommendation; however, they should wear a mask for 10 days.
The CDC also has recommendations for those who may not be able to quarantine.
“Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure,” the CDC says.
The CDC has reiterated its assertion that everyone should vaxx up to defeat COVID.
“COVID-19 vaccination decreases the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. CDC strongly encourages COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 and older and boosters for everyone 16 and older,” the press release says. “Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our communities.”
“Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather,” added CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Shockingly, the release includes an admission that the vaccines aren’t nearly as effective against omicron as they have been against previous variants.
“Data from South Africa and the United Kingdom demonstrate that vaccine effectiveness against infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is approximately 35%,” the CDC admits. “A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%.”
Walensky said that the adjustment in the quarantine recommendation reflects what the CDC has learned about omicron as well as a desire to see Americans return to a regular pattern of life as quickly as possible.
“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” she noted. “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”