HAP Blog

Are the CDC’s COVID-19 Recommendations for Isolation Changing?

February 16, 2024

The COVID-19 guidance for isolation and community transition could soon get a big update.

This week, the Washington Post reported the CDC plans to drop the blanket five-day isolation period for COVID-19 infections and move to recommendations more aligned with influenza and respiratory syncytial virus infections. This approach would end isolation when symptoms are mild and improving and the person is fever-free for at least 24 hours, without the aid of medication.

The new isolation recommendations would not apply to hospitals and other health care settings with more vulnerable populations, CDC officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told news outlets. To date, the CDC has not confirmed the reporting that such plans are in the works. 

Here’s what you should know:

  • Background: California and Oregon have already broken from the CDC guidance suggesting that people with COVID-19 who are fever-free for 24 hours without medication do not need to stay home.
  • By the numbers:  COVID-19 levels in wastewater indicate that symptomatic and asymptomatic infections remain high.
    • About 20,000 people are still hospitalized and about 2,300 are dying every week, CDC data show. But the numbers are falling and are much lower than when deaths peaked during January 2021 when almost 26,000 people died of covid each week and about 115,000 were hospitalized.
  • Vaccines:  The latest versions of coronavirus vaccines were 54 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection in adults, according to data released February 1.
  • In Pennsylvania:  In Pennsylvania, hospitalizations are trending down. 
    • Currently, there were 802 compared to the peak of 1670 on December 30, 2023.
  • What you can do:  HAP encourages everyone to carefully monitor the spread of COVID-19 in their community and talk with their health care provider for questions.
    • COVID-19 therapeutics, such as Paxlovid, remain available and sometimes at no cost to patients due to patient support programs.

Each week, HAP’s Emergency Management Weekly Briefing focuses on areas of interest related to infectious disease, in the U.S. and abroad, to bring situational awareness to our members.

For more information, contact Ryan Weaver, MBA, BSN, RN, CPPS, CHEP manager, emergency management.

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