The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 guidance on Thursday (August 11). The CDC said it is loosening the guidelines because the virus has evolved and now poses a much lower threat of causing severe illness.
"The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years," said Greta Massetti, branch chief of the Field Epidemiology and Prevention Branch at the CDC, in a news briefing. "High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection and the many available tools to prevent to the general population and protect people at higher risk allow us to focus on protecting people from serious illness from Covid-19."
One of the most significant changes is that people exposed to COVID-19 no longer need to quarantine, even if they are unvaccinated. Instead, the agency recommends that those exposed to the virus wear a high-quality mask for ten days and get tested five days after the exposure. Those who test positive should still isolate for at least five days.
The CDC also eliminated recommendations to test asymptomatic people in most public places, including schools. However, COVID testing is still recommended for certain high-risk locations, such as nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.
"This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives," Massetti said.