Goodbye to physical distancing and other measures by covid-19 in the US.
(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the nation must move away from restrictive measures, such as quarantines and physical distancing, and focus on reducing serious illness of covid-19.
In new guidelines released Thursday, the agency no longer recommends staying at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from other people to reduce the risk of exposure, a change from guidelines that had been in place since the early days. of the pandemic.
The change is a sign of how much things have changed since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago. Almost the entire US population has at least some immunity thanks to vaccination, a previous infection, or, in some cases, both.
“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from the last two years,” Greta Massetti, branch chief of the CDC’s Field Epidemiology and Prevention Branch, said at a news conference Thursday.
“The high levels of population immunity due to vaccination and prior infection and the many tools available to prevent the general population and protect those most at risk allow us to focus on protecting people from serious illness from COVID-19.” -19″.
The new CDC guidelines say contact tracing, another hallmark during the pandemic, should be limited to hospitals and certain high-risk community living situations, such as nursing homes, and the guidelines play down the importance of using regular tests to detect covid-19, except in certain high-risk settings such as nursing homes and prisons.
The new guidance also does not recommend quarantining people who have been exposed to covid-19 but are not infected.
However, it maintains some measures. For example, it encourages testing for people with symptoms and their close contacts. It also says that people who test positive should stay home for at least five days and wear a mask around other people for 10 days. It also continues to recommend that people wear masks indoors in about half the country.
The new guidelines also adapt advice on isolation for people who have become seriously ill from covid-19.
People with moderate symptoms, such as shortness of breath and those who were hospitalized, should stay home for at least 10 days. People with compromised immune systems should now talk to their doctor about ending their isolation after an infection.
There’s also new advice on what to do if your COVID-19 symptoms come back. If your isolation ends and your COVID-19 symptoms worsen, you should start your isolation again and see your doctor.
Trying to live around covid-19
The changes are an acknowledgment that SARS-CoV-2 may be with us for the long haul. Their goal is to help people live their lives around covid-19 with minimal disruption to work and school. They are also more risk-based, advising people who are at higher risk of severe illness to take more personal precautions than others.
“I think they generally align with what people are doing anyway,” says Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco.
Chin-Hong believes that some states, such as California, will continue to go beyond the CDC’s guidance in their own recommendations, but overall he thinks they reflect prevailing attitudes toward the pandemic. He sees it as a move by the CDC to try to win back the public’s trust.
A recent poll from the Annenberg Public Policy Center shows that the majority of Americans (54%) no longer wear face coverings indoors, with about 4 in 10 saying they have fully returned to their pre-pandemic routines, up from 16%. in January.
“In my opinion, what the CDC is trying to do is stay relevant, and maybe when they do say something, people will listen to them instead of being completely 180 degrees away from what the behavior is anyway,” Chin- Hong said.
Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, agrees that the new guidance shows that the CDC is trying to find people where they are.
“I think this is a point where you really have to be realistic and start giving people tools that they can use to do something or not. Because otherwise people just won’t take you seriously,” Hanage said.
Other experts, however, feel that the new CDC guidelines don’t go far enough to correct the scientific errors in previous guidance.
“This review does not come close enough to correct the problems of flawed recommendations and lack of evidence,” Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, told CNN in an email. Topol has criticized the CDC for many months, saying that they were not strict enough with their isolation policies for people with covid-19.
Tips to stay safe from covid-19
The CDC recommends that COVID-19 prevention practices continue to depend on a person’s risk of severe illness and the community levels. Community levels reflect cases in a community, as well as hospitalization rates and hospital capacity.
When the community’s COVID level is high, as it is currently in 41% of counties, the CDC continues to recommend that everyone wear high-quality masks indoors. High-risk individuals should also wear quality masks when the community level is medium, as is now the case in 39% of counties.
The agency also places more emphasis on improving ventilation. Aerosol scientists have long complained that the 1.8-meter (6-foot) physical distancing guideline was arbitrary and useless because the virus that causes Covid-19 can float in the air at greater distances.
The CDC continues to emphasize the use of vaccines to reduce “medically significant disease” in covid-19. For the general population, the agency noted that being vaccinated and boosted is highly protective against serious illness and death. The CDC urges everyone to stay up to date on recommended vaccines.
In addition to vaccination, the agency urges that additional measures be taken for people with suppressed immune function, including the use of Evusheld, a type of passive immunity given before a person gets sick. It’s especially helpful for people who can’t mount an immune response, and experts say it’s been underutilized in this country.
The agency also emphasizes the use of antiviral drugs in people who get COVID-19 and are at higher risk for serious outcomes. This group includes older or unvaccinated people or those who have certain medical conditions that put them at higher risk. Conditions that increase risk include overweight and obesity, pregnancy, smoking, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and mental health conditions, including depression.
Covid Guidance for Schools
Some of the guideline changes will apply to schools.
The agency removed the recommendation that children in different classrooms avoid mixing. It also removed advice that children who are contacts of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 be tested regularly, and test negative to remain in the classroom, known as testing to stay.
Some educators said they didn’t expect the CDC’s updated guidelines to change much, at least for this school year.
“We appreciate the clear, concise and actionable guidance from the CDC. Specifically for this latest round, we don’t expect it to be particularly disruptive or impactful in schools,” said Noelle Ellerson Ng, Associate Executive Director for Advocacy and Governance at AASA, The Association of School Superintendents.
Many districts have finalized their opening plans and mitigation strategies, and are sticking with what worked the previous school year to keep kids learning in school.