CDC to update its COVID isolation guidance, ditching 5-day rule: Report

update —

The agency is reportedly moving from the fixed time to a symptom-based isolation period.

CDC to update its COVID isolation guidance, ditching 5-day rule: Report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is preparing to update its COVID-19 isolation guidance, moving from a minimum five-day isolation period to one that is solely determined by symptoms, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Currently, CDC isolation guidance states that people who test positive for COVID-19 should stay home for at least five days, at which point people can end their isolation as long as their symptoms are improving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours.

According to three unnamed officials who spoke with the Post, the CDC will update its guidance to remove the five-day minimum, recommending more simply that people can end their isolation any time after being fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of medication, as long as any other remaining symptoms are mild and improving. The change, which is expected to be released in April, would be the first to loosen the guidance since the end of 2021.

In an email to Ars, a CDC spokesperson did not confirm or deny the report, saying only that, “There are no updates to COVID 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.”

The Post notes that the proposed update to the guidance matches updated guidance from California and Oregon, as well as other countries.

The officials who spoke with the outlet noted that the loosened guidelines reflect that most people in the US have developed some level of immunity to the pandemic coronavirus from prior infections and vaccinations.

A report earlier this month found that the 2023–2024 COVID-19 vaccine was about 54 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 when compared against people who had not received the latest vaccine. However, the CDC estimates that only about 22 percent of adults have received the updated shot.

Currently, the CDC recommends that people wear a mask for 10 days after testing positive unless they have two negative tests 48 hours apart. The Post reported that it’s unclear if the CDC will update its mask recommendation.