On Monday, U.S. health officials said the quarantine time for Americans who catch the coronavirus was shortened from 10 to five days.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that “the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop,” according to Fox 11.
The new suggestion comes after a recent surge of COVID-19 cases, driven by the omicron variant. However, Dr. Fauci said the government could shorten the time if those who came in contact with the disease were asymptomatic.
“Because there are a lot of people in society that are essential for the smooth running of the infrastructure of our society,” Fauci told CNN Monday. “So the idea about cutting down the period of quarantine for people who have been exposed, and perhaps the period of isolation for people who have been infected, is something that is under, I would say, serious consideration.”
Though researchers have concluded that symptoms from the omicron variant could be milder than past variants, the growing number of cases could threaten the ability of hospitals, airlines, and other businesses to stay open, experts say.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the number of omicron cases in the country would likely increase.
“Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact many are going to be asymptomatic,” she told The Associated Press on Monday. “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”
Last week, the federal agency modified the rules after initially stating that health workers should quarantine for 10 days if they tested positive. As of now, health workers who test negative and do not display any symptoms can return to work after quarantining for seven days. However, if hospitals start to face severe shortages, the agency said the isolation time could be cut to five days or fewer, Fox 11 reported.
Additionally, the CDC has changed the isolation and quarantine guidelines for the general public to become less inflexible.
The new guidelines are for those who test positive with no symptoms. People who develop symptoms during isolation or quarantine are encouraged to stay home.
While the new recommendations have confused many, the CDC faces backlash for making changes as new cases are confirmed each day.
As of now, they are “happening at a time when more people are testing positive for the first time and looking for guidance,” said Lindsay Wiley, an American University public health law expert.
In addition to the general public guidelines, commercial businesses have also urged health officials to reduce the isolation time for COVID-19.
A letter from the CEO of Delta Airlines to the director of the CDC surfaced online this week, calling for the isolation and quarantine time to be shortened, Newsweek reported.
In the letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky dated December 21, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian joined the airline’s chief health officer Henry Ting and medical advisor Carlos Del Rio calling for the rules to be changed.
“The request comes after analysis by medical experts of data that indicates the Omicron variant has a shorter incubation and infectious period among those who are fully vaccinated against the virus,” Delta’s statement said.
Ironically, the CDC and Delta Airlines are both based in Atlanta making some people believe that it’s business over people.
Six days ago, the CEO of Delta airlines requested the quarantine period for COVID infections be halved to five days, to ease the burden on their workforce.
When powerful corporate interests ask, they receive. pic.twitter.com/J6uBIRo0MA
— Aaron Lockhart 🇺🇸 (@arabbitorduck) December 28, 2021
New CDC isolation guidance seems to be a top down, corporate-driven, poorly coordinated decision.
1) Delta Airlines asked for this.
2) CDC staff I spoke with wasn’t aware of this guidance change until it dropped, says staff is now being asked to write scientific justification.
— Andrew Goldstein #EndVaccineApartheid (@AndrewMakeTweet) December 28, 2021
You don’t work for Delta Airlines.
You should not do what their CEO ask you to do.
This wasn’t a health decision.
It was a political one.
You have made a serious mistake here.
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) December 28, 2021
The letter is available on the Delta website.