CDC shortens COVID-19 isolation recommendation

No changes recommended for respiratory virus guidance in health care settings


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance on March 1, saying that the general public can return to work or regular activities if their symptoms are mild and improving and it has been a day since they’ve had a fever.

 The updated guidance is intended for community settings, the CDC said. There are no changes to respiratory virus guidance for health care settings.

 The change is an effort to streamline recommendations so they are similar to longstanding recommendations for flu and other respiratory viruses, the agency said in a news release.

“[The] announcement reflects the progress we have made in protecting against severe illness from COVID-19,” said CDC Director Mandy Cohen, M.D., in the release. “However, we still must use the commonsense solutions we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious illness from respiratory viruses — this includes vaccination, treatment, and staying home when we get sick.”

 Prior to these new isolation recommendations, the CDC had said people who test positive for COVID should stay isolated for at least five days.

 “The 2023-2024 fall and winter virus season, four years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, provided ongoing evidence of the changing face of respiratory diseases,” according to the CDC. “COVID-19 remains an important public health threat, but it is no longer the emergency that it once was, and its health impacts increasingly resemble those of other respiratory viral illnesses, including influenza and RSV. This reality enables CDC to provide updated guidance proportionate to the current level of risk COVID-19 poses while balancing other critical health and societal needs.”

In the release, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Demetre Daskalakis, M.D., said, “The bottom line is that when people follow these actionable recommendations to avoid getting sick, and to protect themselves and others if they do get sick, it will help limit the spread of respiratory viruses, and that will mean fewer people who experience severe illness. That includes taking enhanced precautions that can help protect people who are at higher risk for getting seriously ill.”

In late February, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issued a recommendation for a second dose of the current 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines that were authorized last fall to be given to those over 65 years of age. Those who are immunosuppressed remain eligible to receive additional doses two months after their previous dose.

The federal government has established a website that provides a toolkit with information on how to obtain masks, treatment, vaccines and testing resources for all areas of the country at


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