There is confusion nationwide, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut its recommended quarantine time in half for people who test positive for the coronavirus.
“It’s so crazy, there’s so much confusion," said L.A. resident Veronica Johnson, "No one knows what to do. Everyone has the mask, then they’re not wearing a mask. It’s 5 days, 10 days. It’s confusing, but all i know is keeping the mask up for a while.”
The agency faced criticism for not recommending a negative COVID test as a condition to end isolation.
The CDC's announcement has even garnered thousands of memes and jokes across the internet.
“Most people who’ve had covid know it last like 2 weeks so that’s the only thing that’s a little confusing for me. the 5 days, 10 days but it seems like it’s just always changing and evolving for it to kind of work for maybe businesses, i don't know.”
Last week, the agency shortened the recommended times that people should isolate when they’ve tested positive for Covid-19 from 10 days to five days if they don’t have symptoms — and if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days.
“Most people who’ve had Covid know it lasts like 2 weeks, so that’s the only thing that’s a little confusing for me. 5 days, 10 days... but it seems like it’s just always changing and evolving for it to kind of work for maybe businesses," said Palm Desert resident Liza Peterson.
But Riverside County Deputy Public Health Officer, Dr. Shunling Tsang, encourages getting tested no matter what. “We’re trying to help people end their isolation earlier, that’s why we’re recommending the antigen test at day 5 if you know, you want to shorten your isolation.”
Another question many people are asking – why now? Why the sudden change in guidance while Covid-cases are surging nationwide?
“I think the reason things are rapidly changing is because as we find out information, we’re trying to push it out in real time because people need it in real time,” said Dr. Tsang.
The CDC explained their decision saying people are most contagious 1 to 2 days prior to onset of symptoms– and then 2 to 3 days after.
“How do we live with this virus? And we’re letting science help guide us so that we can still co-exist with this. And still making sure we keep everyone safe,” Dr. Tsang added.
The CDC also shortened the recommended time for people to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus to a similar five days if they are vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated and boosted may not need to quarantine at all, the CDC said.
On Tuesday, the CDC explained the scientific rationale for shortening its isolation and quarantine recommendations.
In laying out the scientific basis for the revisions, the agency said more than 100 studies from 17 countries indicate that most transmission happens early in an infection. The CDC acknowledged the data come from research done when delta and other pre-omicron variants were causing the most infections. But the agency also pointed to limited, early data from the U.S. and South Korea that suggests the time between exposure and the appearance of symptoms may be shorter for omicron than for earlier variants.