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CDC Releases Updated Guidelines for Respiratory Viruses in Community Settings

March 01, 2024

The CDC has updated its recommendations for isolation for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

When people get sick with a respiratory virus, they should stay home and away from others, CDC leaders said, but the isolation period could be shortening for some.

On Friday, the CDC updated its guidance to say individuals with a respiratory virus can return to normal activities if their symptoms are improving for 24 hours and their fever symptoms have subsided without the use of medication.

Importantly, the updated guidance is intended for community settings, and there are no changes to respiratory virus guidance for health care settings.

The CDC is making updates to the recommendations because the U.S. is seeing far fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with the virus and because more tools are available for flu, COVID, and RSV.

“Today’s announcement reflects the progress we have made in protecting against severe illness from COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen. “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.”

As part of the guidance, the CDC recommends:

  • Staying up to date with vaccinations to protect people against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. This includes flu, COVID-19, and RSV if eligible.
  • Practicing good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes, washing or sanitizing hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
  • Taking steps for cleaner air, such as bringing in more fresh outside air, purifying indoor air, or gathering outdoors.

Once people resume normal activities, they are encouraged to take additional prevention strategies for the next five days to curb disease spread, such as wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses.

Enhanced precautions are especially important to protect those most at risk for severe illness, including those over 65 and people with weakened immune systems.

Additional information about the updated guidance is available online.