The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a series of new COVID guidelines on Thursday afternoon, marking the organization’s continued efforts to loosen restrictions as new treatments and vaccine formulations continue to be released.
The new guidelines, which focused primarily on changing quarantine and isolation recommendations, had been discussed for several weeks, but now the agency says it has streamlined its tips on what to do if individuals are infected with, or exposed to, the virus.
“We are in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools – like vaccination, boosters and treatments – to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” Dr. Greta Massetti said in a statement. “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.”
While the new guidance does several notable things, including distinguishing between mild and serious cases of the virus when it comes to isolation times, one of the biggest changes was the addition of guidance for those who suffer from “rebound COVID,” an increasingly-studied phenomenon that has led to some individuals testing positive for the virus after appearing to have recovered from it.
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Those individuals include President Joe Biden and White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Rebound COVID” is defined by the CDC as a case that either involves a recurrence of symptoms, something which has become more publicized since the advent of the omicron subvariants, or a positive COVID test result several days after receiving a negative test result, indicating that a patient’s viral load has increased again.
If a patient experiences a case of “rebound COVID,” either because their symptoms worsen after their isolation period or if they test positive for the virus again, then the CDC is now recommending that they go back into a state of isolation, restarting their clock at the so-called “Day 0” moment that is associated with the initial onset of symptoms.
Under the new guidance, a person who tests positive for COVID is recommended to isolate for at least five days. If they experience a mild case of the virus, if their fever dissipates for 24 hours or more without the use of medication, and if their symptoms are improving, patients can end isolation after five days. Those patients are still encouraged to wear a mask for the following five days, and to stay away from immunocompromised individuals for at least 11 days after the onset of their symptoms.
If a patient experiences serious illness, defined as dealing with shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, then they are advised to isolate for 10 days, and to potentially consult a doctor before ending that isolation.
The same guidelines will apply to individuals who are isolating with a case of “rebound COVID,” according to the CDC guidelines.