The CDC added that it was also rolling back its so-called test-to-stay policy that suggested children exposed to Covid-19 obtain a negative test in order to remain in the classroom or in childcare settings.
“These updates make it easier for schools to assess their risk and make necessary action to protect students and staff,” Greta Massetti, chief of the CDC’s Field Epidemiology and Prevention Branch, said in a call with reporters on Thursday.
The Atlanta-based health agency released a suite of new recommendations on how Americans should navigate the ever-evolving pandemic. Massetti said the reason the CDC is recommending rolling back “test-to-stay” is because the agency is broadly unwinding its quarantine guidelines, and the policy was designed to be an alternative to quarantine.
“Our goal is to provide sustainable guidance that allows flexibility and ensures everyone has access to information to protect themselves and others,” Massetti said.
The CDC also no longer makes a distinction in vaccination status for workplaces or other sites that conduct screening. It used to recommend screening only for people who are unvaccinated or aren’t up to date with all their shots. But the agency is now saying that everyone should undergo screening, if that practice is in place.
Massetti said the changes reflect data indicating 95% of the population has some protection, either from infection or vaccination. “It really makes the most sense to not differentiate our guidance or our recommendations based on vaccination status at this time,” she said
The CDC suggested that those who are exposed to Covid should wear a mask around others indoors, while monitoring for symptoms, for 10 days. People should also test five days after exposure or sooner if experiencing symptoms, the CDC said. The guidance is the same for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Children under age 2, however, shouldn’t wear masks, according to the agency.
People who are infected with Covid-19 should end isolation on the sixth day or later if they never had symptoms or if they are fever-free for 24 hours and other symptoms have improved, the CDC said.
Infected individuals should wear a mask for 10 days-post infection, or receive two negative antigen tests to decide when to stop masking. They should also avoid people who are at high risk of getting very sick, the CDC said.
If there’s a high level of community transmission, the CDC continues to recommend screening protocols for situations such as indoor close contact sports or large events like prom.
Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, supported the changes while underscoring the importance of remaining up-to-date on Covid vaccinations. “We have been dealing with COVID-19 for 2 1/2 years and have the knowledge and tools to better manage it moving forward,” Plescia said in a statement.
(Updates with details on screening starting sixth paragraph)
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