The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday scaled back its Covid-19 restrictions for unvaccinated people and those exposed to the virus, according to a new Wall Street Journal report.
Federal health officials confirmed that they no longer recommend that people quarantine after exposure to the disease, as long as they don’t feel sick. They should still get tested after five days and wear a high-quality face mask for ten days.
Previously, the health agency advised that people who were unvaccinated or hadn’t received their boosters should quarantine for five days after exposure. If no symptoms appear, the quarantine can end.
“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,” Dr. Greta Massetti, chief of the field epidemiology and prevention branch at the CDC and one of the authors of the updated guidance, said in a statement.
“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. 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,” she continued.
The updated guidance comes as the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5 subvariant now accounts for nearly 90 percent of current Covid cases in the United States, according to CDC data. The subvariant, which has shown to be particularly adept at evading the immune protection afforded by vaccination or prior infection, has been driving a surge of new infections in the United States and globally.
According to a New York Times report, the Biden administration already has given the green light to plans to offer retooled Covid booster shots starting in September. The new vaccines will be modified to target the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 in addition to the original strain of the virus.
Both Pfizer and Moderna acknowledged that they will have the new boosters ready by this fall and that the federal government has put in purchase orders for millions of doses to distribute to the public.
“We must stay vigilant in our fight against Covid-19 and continue to expand Americans’ access to the best vaccines and treatments,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a release. “As we look to the fall and winter, we’re doing just that—ensuring Americans have the tools they need to stay safe and help keep our nation moving forward.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.