CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidelines

Updated 8.17.2022

What these changes mean and how to navigate for you and your loved ones.

The biggest changes:

1) If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, it’s no longer necessary to quarantine (wear a high quality mask and test on day 5).

2) No longer recommending routine screening of people without symptoms unless with a known exposure.

If these updates give you pause, let me help to explain the thought process behind these changes. We have evolved a lot since the time when COVID-19 first emerged. We estimate that close to 95% of Americans have some immunity to COVID, either from vaccination or from having had COVID infection (or both). Furthermore, we have many more tools to help treat COVID, minimize the severity of illness and prevent progression to severe disease and death. You also have PhysicianOne! We’re here when you need us for any of your PCR and rapid antigen testing needs or to discuss treatment options including the antivirals Paxlovid and Lagevrio (Molnupiravir), and access to our nurses’ line at 860-650-3848.

Take the stress and hassle out of “what do I do if…” and connect with our team for all your exposure, symptom, and treatment questions.

Let’s look at the biggest changes and how to navigate them together:

  • Those exposed to the virus are no longer required to quarantine
    • If you know you have been exposed to someone else with COVID, CDC previously recommended a period of quarantine. Instead, now they are recommending that you mask up around others and get tested on day 5 before considering yourself “safe” from that exposure.
    • However, remember that individual risk for medically significant illness depends on each individual’s risk factors – so if you had planned to visit a loved one who is high-risk for severe disease, perhaps it makes sense to delay that visit until you are outside of the riskiest period.
  • Unvaccinated people now have the same guidance as vaccinated people
    • Since we now estimate that about 95% of the population have some immunity to COVID-19 (either through vaccination or infection) it no longer makes sense to differentiate guidance based on vaccination status.
    • That said, vaccination continues to remain one of the most effective tools in our toolbox – and coming sometime soon (hopefully this fall), we expect an even “sharper” tool – the omicron specific COVID booster designed to better protect against the currently circulating variants of COVDI-19.
  • Students can stay in class after being exposed to the virus
    • If you have a student in your life you may have mixed feelings about this one. I have three children in school so this change hits close to home for me.
    • The change here really focuses on testing if there is suspicion of infection (such as one would have if there were symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, chills, sore throat or cough. And no longer testing just to screen. The guidance also stresses that if your child or student is sick, they should isolate from others if there is suspicion of COVID until the test results return.
    • Isolation recommendations are to isolate for at least 5 days if you test positive for COVID-19. If your symptoms are improved after 5 days, you can end isolation – but should continue to wear a mask around others on days 6-10.
    • If your child(ren) are eligible for the COVID vaccine and they have not yet been vaccinated I strongly recommend this added layer of protection. Even if your child(ren) has had a COVID infection, the vaccine adds additional immunity that will help protect if exposed again at school.
    • Remind them to wash their hands/use hand sanitizer before snacks and meals, and wash hands thoroughly when they return home from school or class
  • It’s no longer recommended to screen those without symptoms in most settings
    • Typically, asymptomatic patients are not shedding the virus as much as those with more active symptoms (fever, chills, sore throat, congestion, cough)
    • Masking and physical distancing remain great tools in our COVID prevention toolbox. This is particularly important for high-risk individuals such as elderly and immunocompromised folks.

Overall, the revised CDC guidelines appear to acknowledge that COVID-19 is here to stay and aim to help us move to a place where restrictions no longer severely impact our day-to-day lives. Continue to be vigilant based on your own individual risk factors and comfort level. We are here to answer your questions, help you get tested and if you develop COVID-19 we are here to help you with treatments and other guidance to help you get better.

 

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