New Covid-19 guidelines eliminate need to isolate

Published: March 10, 2024

Starting this month, we can treat Covid-19 like the run-of-the-mill respiratory virus that it has become.

What are the new guidelines?

Nearly four years to the day after Covid-19 first appeared, killing millions of Americans and shuttering much of the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) announced new guidance for the general public: If you test positive for the virus, but your symptoms are improving overall, and you have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication) for at least 24 hours, then you do not need to isolate and may resume your normal activities.

This new guidance comes as no surprise. After all, we’re no longer in pandemic mode, when we were singling out Covid-19 from other respiratory viruses that circulate. The Covid-19 that’s infecting people today is not the Covid-19 of 2020. We’re not seeing as severe a disease as we saw three or four years ago. That’s because coronaviruses, as they mutate, become more contagious, but less severe. From a population standpoint, that’s a good thing because it contributes to herd immunity. It is time the CDC started treating Covid-19 like it’s endemic because it finally is. We need to normalize it.

Are there precautions you should take while recovering from Covid-19?

Despite its new guidance, the CDC still urges caution. Even if you are feeling better, you may still be able to spread the virus, though you are likely to be less contagious, depending on how sick you were and for how long. So, if you return to your normal activities and continue to test positive, then take added precautions over the next five days by wearing a mask, physically distancing, washing your hands, staying in well-ventilated rooms, and testing when you plan to be around other people indoors.

Everyone should make sure they’re up to date on their Covid-19 vaccination. The bivalent vaccine, which came out last fall, is the only one currently available and everyone aged 5 years and older should get one dose of an updated Covid-19 vaccine. (Younger children need multiple doses.) People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of the updated Covid-19 vaccine.

Finally, keep in mind that vaccines for adults are available for all three respiratory viruses that are out there right now: flu, RSV, and Covid-19. Make sure you’re vaccinated to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.

Featured Expert/ Author

1881896215 L

Infectious Disease, Internal Medicine

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