CDC moves beyond COVID emergency with new guidance

WASHINGTON – The next day a new President Biden without coronavirus embarked in a post-infection vacation in South CarolinaThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released revisions to pandemic guidance that clearly indicate a shift from the state of emergency approach that has been in place, at least at the federal level, since 2020.

The new rules, unveiled by the CDC’s chief field epidemiologist Dr. Gretta Massetti Thursday afternoon, they are the latest sign that the Biden administration is trying to move into a new post-pandemic mode that recognizes the dangers posed by the coronavirus, but also allows people to make their own decisions about how those dangers should be dictates his life.

“This guidance recognizes that the pandemic is not over, but it also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives,” Massetti said in a statement accompanying the new guidance, which it was cheered by some and denounced. from others.

Among several revisions, the update says that “screening testing of asymptomatic people with no known exposures” is no longer required. The new guide it also recommends “case investigation and contact tracing only in health care settings and certain high-risk congregation settings.”

Such changes are intended to reduce some of the inconveniences and disruptions that people and institutions have experienced in trying to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The new approach emphasizes finding and treating cases of serious illness, without eliminating every infection.

An accompanying guide for schools dispensing with last year’s test-to-stay policywhich mandated that students in a classroom with confirmed exposure to coronavirus be tested regularly to continue attending school.

A student at a public school in New York City

A student in a New York public school. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

The new rules still recommend that people sick with COVID-19 should isolate at home, but people – including students in schools – should not be quarantined if they have been exposed to someone who had tested positive but they don’t feel sick. Instead, people who have been exposed have to take a diagnostic test on the fifth day after the date of exposure, and to wear a mask for ten days after that date.

“Quarantine is no longer recommended for people who are exposed to COVID-19 except in certain high-risk congregate settings such as correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and nursing homes,” Thursday’s revised rules say. “In schools and [early childhood education] settings, which are generally not considered high-risk congregate settings, people who have been exposed to COVID-19 should follow recommendations to wear an appropriate mask and be tested.”

People in isolation with symptoms of coronavirus still need to wear a mask for five days after the end of the five-day isolation period.

But the agency no longer emphasizes physical distancing, a popular practice since the early days of the pandemic that later became controversial. “Physical distancing is only one component of how to protect yourself and others,” the revised guide says.

Subway riders in New York City

Subway riders in New York City. (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

And while previous rules treated vaccinated and unvaccinated people differently, that difference has been removed, although the CDC continues to urge vaccination as a basic protection. New variants of the coronavirus have shown the ability to evade the defenses offered by vaccines, making them less effective than had been hoped. At the same time, so many people have been infected by the coronavirus that natural immunity seems to have provided a proper stronghold.

“High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and prior infection, and the many tools we have available to protect people from serious illness and death, have put us in a different place,” Massetti acknowledged. Thursday.

Even many states with Democratic leadership, where caution had been the norm for much of the first two years of the pandemic, began to return to a kind of pre-pandemic normal in early 2022. The new CDC guidelines seem to recognize that reality, leaving individuals to make their own decisions about how much protection to take.

“I’m glad that the CDC has finally met the moment and recognizes our broad health needs, beyond simply not having COVID,” Dr. Lucy McBride, Washington internist and podcaster, he wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “For children in particular, it is time to more appropriately balance the harms of COVID with the harms of mitigation measures. COVID is here to stay. Living in a perpetual state of emergency is not sustainable; it is not yet necessary with the widespread availability of vaccines and therapies.”

Students wait in line before going to their classes on the first day back to school

Students gather on the first day of school in Anaheim, Calif., Aug. 11 (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Others, however, complain that a presidential administration that had promised to “listen to science” was abdicating its responsibility to Americans left vulnerable by disease, poverty or other conditions.

“Capitulation,” Yale public health expert Gregg Gonsalves said in a text message to Yahoo News. He and others noted that hundreds continue to die each day from COVID-19, and that the poor and people of color have borne the brunt of the pandemic from the beginning.

“We need a vaccination campaign and enforcement and delivery,” Boston University public health expert Julia Raifman told Yahoo News. She also argued for “data-driven growth policies that trigger mask mandates before bad surges to avoid widespread health damage, overflowing hospitals, and work and school disruptions.”

Los Angeles County is about to reimpose a mask mandate in Julyonly to decide at the last minute against doing so.

The White House did not respond to a Yahoo News request for comment, but officials there used Biden’s bout with the coronavirus as evidence that vaccination, combined with treatment, easily blunts the effects of the virus. illness And they, like Massetti, pointed out that the constantly evolving pathogen is unlikely to disappear completely, as some had hoped. This hope now seems naively naive.

Travelers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Travelers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in July. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

“This virus is going to be with us forever,” Dr. Ashish Jha, the coordinator of the White House’s pandemic response team, said. he said in a briefing last month.

The new rules come as students prepare to return to school and many white-collar workers return to the office. Meanwhile, planes are packed, as are sports stadiums and restaurants.

“The goal should be to minimize disruption to school, work and other aspects of life,” medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen told Yahoo News in an email. “It also recognizes that, at this point, people have different levels of risk and risk tolerance, and should be able to choose mitigation measures accordingly.”

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