The CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidance

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Patricia Tsipras

August 15, 2022

On August 11, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “streamlined” their COVID-19 guidance.  While acknowledging that the pandemic is not over, the CDC believes that – with tools like vaccination, boosters, and treatments – the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death is significantly less now as compared to earlier in the pandemic.  The new guidance is designed to help us “move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Though the CDC continues to promote the importance of being up to date with vaccination, their new guidance treats vaccinated and unvaccinated people the same for purposes of handling exposure to someone with COVID-19.  Specifically, the CDC recommends that, rather than quarantining upon exposure to COVID-19, you should wear a high-quality mask for ten days and get tested on day five.

The CDC also reiterated its guidance to isolate from others when you have, or suspect you have, COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends that (1) you stay home for at least five days and isolate from others in your home; (2) end isolation after five days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and your other symptoms are improving, or you never had symptoms; (3) wear a high-quality mask for ten days; and (4) avoid people who are more likely to get sick from COVID-19 for at least 11 days.
  • The CDC recommends isolation for at least 10 days if you were moderately ill from COVID -19 (i.e., you experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing).
  • If you were severely ill (i.e., hospitalized) or have a weakened immune system, the CDC recommends that you consult with a health care provider before ending isolation.
  • If, after you end isolation, your COVID-19 symptoms worsen, restart isolation and talk to your health care provider.

The CDC emphasizes that physical distance is only one way to protect yourself and others.  You also should consider the risk in a particular setting, including local COVID-19 Community Levels and ventilation.

Probably the most significant updates in the guidance for employers (remember that State guidance may differ) are that (1) in most community settings, the CDC no longer recommends screening testing for asymptomatic people without known exposure; (2) the CDC recommends contact tracing only in health care settings and specific high-risk congregate settings.


*Special thanks to Brooke Palma, our Office Administrator, for her contributions to this article.

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