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C.D.C. Considers Ending 5-Day Isolation Period for Covid

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering loosening its recommendations regarding how long people should isolate after testing positive for the coronavirus, another reflection of changing attitudes and norms as the pandemic recedes.

Under the proposed guidelines, Americans would no longer be advised to isolate for five days before returning to work or school. Instead, they might return to their routines if they have been fever free for at least 24 hours without medication, the same standard applied to the influenza and respiratory syncytial viruses.

The proposal would align the C.D.C.’s advice with revised isolation recommendations in Oregon and California. The shift was reported earlier by The Washington Post, but it is still under consideration, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions.

The C.D.C. last changed its policy on isolation in late 2021, when it scaled down the recommended period to five days from 10. If adopted, the new approach would signal that Covid has taken a place alongside other routine respiratory infections.

But by focusing on the isolation policy for Covid, for example, the agency is squandering an opportunity to foster better public health policies, several experts said.

“From a long-term public health perspective, I think this sets really an unfortunate precedent,” said Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the special pathogens program at NYC Health + Hospitals.

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