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What changed? New guidance for COVID isolation

About four years after the pandemic began, the days of being isolated to your home after a positive COVID test have come to an end. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially updated its guidelines, dropping the five-day isolation period after a positive COVID test, stating you don’t need to isolate at all – in most cases.

This change stems from low COVID hospital admission and mortality rates – vaccinations, masking, isolating when sick and COVID antibodies from previous infections all playing a role.

The update closely mimics guidance for other respiratory illnesses. “Generally, people with COVID infection do not get as sick as they did at the beginning of the pandemic,” explains Dr. Robert Citronberg, the executive medical director of infectious disease and prevention at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. “The morbidity of COVID, which is the degree of sickness someone gets from an infection, is now equivalent to other viruses, like the flu.”

Like any respiratory illness, you should stay home/isolate until you are fever-free for 24 hours. Also, masking is still a part of the guidance. You should wear a mask for five days after testing positive for COVID to reduce the spread of germs.

If you are immunocompromised, you may wonder if the new guidance applies to you – and it does. Dr. Citronberg says this group may consider wearing masks in indoor public places or if they are in close contact with someone who is recovering from any respiratory infection.

With people no longer isolating when they have COVID, here’s how you can prevent getting sick:
  • Receive recommended COVID vaccinations
  • Wash your hands after sneezing, coughing or coming in contact with a frequently touched surface
  • Open windows for fresh air and ventilation
  • Use an air purifier
  • Take events outside

“These guidelines do not apply to health care settings,” cautions Dr. Citronberg. “However, outside of those settings, you should be able to return to work once you’re feeling better. It’s always a good idea to check with your employer to see if they have different requirements for return to work after testing positive for COVID.”

If you have questions about whether you are a good candidate for an updated COVID vaccine, talk with your doctor.

Find the best care for your symptoms here: Illinois | Wisconsin

This article originally appeared on health enews.

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