CDC updates community guidance on COVID-19 exposures, isolation

Pandemic is not over so vaccination still key for protection against virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have updated guidance for people exposed to COVID-19, or are sick or test positive for the virus.

The CDC published the new community guidance on Aug. 11. “COVID-19 continues to circulate globally, however, with so many tools available to us for reducing COVID-19 severity, there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic,” the agency’s announcement said.

“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools – like vaccination, boosters, and treatments – to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” Greta Massetti, PhD, MPH, said in a news release. Massetti is author of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation,” Massetti said. “This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

CDC is continuing to promote the importance of being up to date with vaccination to protect people against serious illness, hospitalization, and death.

“Protection provided by the current vaccine against symptomatic infection and transmission is less than that against severe disease and diminishes over time, especially against the currently circulating variants,” the CDC announcement said. “For this reason, it is important to stay up to date, especially as new vaccines become available.”

Additional guidance includes:

  • Instead of quarantining if you were exposed to COVID-19, you wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you have COVID-19 or if you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you stay home for at least five days and isolate from others in your home. “You are likely most infectious during the first five days. Wear a high-quality mask when you must be around others at home and in public,” the CDC guidance said.
  • After five days being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and if symptoms are improving or you never had symptoms, you may end isolation after day five.
  • Regardless of when you end isolation, avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11 and wear a high-quality mask through day 10.

The full guidance is posted at cdc.gov. CDC expects to announce additional guidance for other settings, such as medical settings and travel, in coming weeks.