Washington Post: CDC to ease Covid-19 isolation guidance

Feb 13, 2024, 2:52 PM

cdc sign shown, the agency updated its covid guidelines...

(Tami Chappell/Reuters/FILE)

(Tami Chappell/Reuters/FILE)

(CNN) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to shift its Covid-19 isolation guidance this spring to say that people no longer need to isolate once they have been fever-free for 24 hours and their symptoms are mild or improving, according to the Washington Post.

The Post cited four unnamed agency officials and said the planned shift was discussed internally last week and in a briefing with state health officials.

The CDC said there were no changes to the agency’s isolation guidelines to announce “at this time.”

“We will continue to make decisions based on the best evidence and science to keep communities healthy and safe,” said Dave Daigle, a spokesperson for the CDC.

Since 2021, the agency has said people should isolate for at least five days if they tested positive for Covid-19, and then continue to mask. The updated guidance would bring Covid-19 in line with guidance for other respiratory viruses, such as flu.

CNN previously reported that California and Oregon had recently broken with CDC’s guidance to say that people who test positive for Covid-19 are no longer expected to isolate for a set period of time — and those without symptoms don’t have to isolate at all.

The science around Covid-19 transmission hasn’t changed, but experts broadly agreed after the California and Oregon changes that easing isolation timeframes won’t significantly increase community transmission or severe outcomes, in part because the virus has been circulating at very high levels, even with more restrictive guidance in place.

Some infectious disease experts said the change made sense because it would align with what many Americans already do.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, cited the latest coronavirus variant, JN.1, as a case in point.

“It’s producing a lot of mild infection. Lots of people are not even testing,” he said.

If they test positive, people aren’t really following strict guidelines for isolation anymore.

“Once they feel better, they’re going back to their normal activities. They are not rigorously putting themselves in isolation for five days,” Schaffner said.

Other experts also agreed that the update was prudent.

“Given the increased amount of immunity to Covid-19 in the population, access to treatment for Covid-19 and reductions in hospitalizations and deaths, it seems reasonable for the CDC to adapt our national strategies,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s Covid-19 czar.

“Currently, many of our citizens are no longer testing for Covid-19 and are not actively isolating,” Marsh said. “With the caveat of the risk of long Covid and the potential for mortality in the elderly and immunocompromised, the future guidance by CDC meets the standard we are seeing.”

Not everyone thinks the possible change is a good idea, however, noting that it would just greenlight more transmission of the infection.

“This is a reckless policy change that will only serve to promote more spread of Covid and Long Covid,” Dr. Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said in an email. Topol co-authored one of the first reviews of asymptomatic Covid-19 infections.

Wastewater surveillance data published by the CDC suggests that Covid-19 is still circulating at high levels across the US, but the agency notes that “infections are causing severe disease less frequently than earlier in the pandemic.”

Still, tens of thousands of people are hospitalized with Covid-19 and hundreds of people die from the virus each week. There were about 21,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations during the week ending February 3, according to the latest CDC data. That’s about 20% lower than this time last year but more than three times more than the low point from this summer.

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Meg Tirrell contributed to this report.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Hikers explore a trail, hiking is good for health, be it mental or physical...

Tim Hughes

Take a hike, it’s good for your health

As the weather warms up, consider hiking for your health. Research shows it provides not just physical benefits, but mental ones too.

23 hours ago

Homelessness advocates in front of Supreme Court...


With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

It's the most significant case in the Supreme Court in decades on homelessness and comes as record numbers of people are without a permanent place to live.

1 day ago

Two e-scooters sit parked --A second person has died as a result of an accident on an e-scooter in ...

Aimee Cobabe and Heather Peterson

Second e-scooter death being investigated in Salt Lake City

A 41-year-old man died after police said he was hit while riding an e-scooter at 800 West North Temple on Sunday.

2 days ago

Image shows a person receiving a measles vaccine, Based on national behavior, measles cases are lik...

Allessandra Harris Gurr

Measles cases likely to pop up in Utah this year, health official says

Measles cases haven't made it to Utah yet but health professionals advise getting vaccinated and watching for symptoms.

2 days ago

Marijuana plants grow in a facility, medical marijuana cards are increasing...

Heather Peterson

Utah health officials see spike in medical marijuana cards

Utah has had a large spike in the number of medical marijuana cards issued to patients over the last few years.

2 days ago

vape addiction vaping marijuana...

Amie Schaeffer

Talking to teens about marijuana misuse

Gray Matters Utah talks about having conversations with teenagers about marijuana misuse.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Washington Post: CDC to ease Covid-19 isolation guidance