C.D.C. Stands By Decision Not to Require Testing to End 5-Day Isolation


Despite sharp criticism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday stood by its recommendation that Americans infected with the coronavirus end their isolation after five days without first obtaining a negative virus test.

The agency guidelines, released last week, shortened the recommended isolation period from 10 days to five for infected people who do not have symptoms, or whose symptoms are resolving. But the agency did not recommend testing before leaving isolation, an omission that surprised and worried many outside experts.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, told The New York Times last week that the recommendation was based on evidence showing that most people are no longer contagious five days after symptoms appear. But the agency did not share the data behind the decision.

The guidelines suggested that following isolation, recovered people wear a mask around others for another five days. Dr. Walensky defended the decision to omit testing, saying that rapid tests are not reliable for determining when an individual is no longer contagious.

The new guidelines “facilitate individual social and well-being needs, return to work, and maintenance of critical infrastructure,” according to an update posted on Tuesday to the agency’s website.

For people exposed to the virus who are unvaccinated or have not yet received a booster dose of one of the vaccines, the agency now recommends a quarantine of five days, followed by strict mask use for another five.

People who have received a booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days afterward, according to the guidelines.



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