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Recently , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their recommendations for how Americans can protect themselves from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. The new guidance considers COVID-19, RSV and Flu together since they represent a triple threat to the public’s health and the U.S. healthcare system. This is the first time this agency has revised its COVID-19 guidelines since 2021.

Importantly, the CDC has changed its recommendations for isolation following a positive COVID-19 test: People who test positive for the virus will no longer be directed by the CDC to isolate at home for five days. Instead, people who test positive for the virus should base their isolation period on their clinical symptoms, like whether they are coughing, sneezing, have a fever, etc. If an individual has been without a fever for at least 24 hours and their symptoms are improving, they can return to regularly scheduled activities. However, the CDC recommends that people continue to try to limit close contact with others if they can, masking and handwashing for the next five days.

The CDC is no longer recommending relying on testing as a standard for deciding when someone is no longer contagious. CDC research has shown that fewer people use at-home tests if they have symptoms; people who are infected can also continue to test positive for up to 90 days even after their symptoms go away.

It is not clear how the nation’s providers and healthcare organizations (including clinics and hospitals) will react to the new guidance from the CDC. The CDC did clarify that these updated recommendations are primarily for regular people, like you and me.

As part of their new guidance, the CDC also recommends the following:

•          Staying up to date with vaccines for COVID-19, flu, and RSV, if you are eligible

•          Practicing good hygiene, like regular handwashing and cleaning 

•          Improving and monitoring indoor air quality if you are able

With these updated and more general guidelines, the CDC hopes that it will be easier for people to understand and respond to multiple respiratory illnesses that are circulating and that share similar symptoms. In the last two years, there have been less hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, partly due to continued use of vaccines and treatments for the virus. These healthy preventative behaviors are important to continue the progress we have seen.


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