COVID-19 cases are averaging close to 200,000 cases per day due to the aggressive Omicron variant, prompting public health officials to scramble for widespread testing and other mitigating measures. The CDC, one of the leading voices regarding the deadly virus, suggested that COVID-19 isolation be cut from 10 to 5 days, but only if the subject is asymptomatic.
The CDC made an announcement this week that isolation and quarantine time after a positive COVID-19 test can be cut from the formerly routine 10 days to just five. Earlier, it was suggested that healthcare workers could return to work sooner after exposure to the virus, which prompted some pushback last week when that instruction was first announced. However, this latest missive from the CDC widens that approach.
From the CDC:
Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.
Despite the use of the term “asymptomatic,” many are looking at this decision from the science agency as a ploy to get workers back online and keep the economy roaring, not based on science or evidence. With vaccines going wide and widespread testing being made available in home kits by President Joe Biden’s administration, there seems to be a concerted effort to get ahead of the current Omicron surge.
On Twitter, folks seized on the CDC’s messaging with jokes and related sobering thoughts. We’ve collected those reactions below.