Tired of COVID-19 precautions? So does the CDC, apparently.
As noted in a press release on Thursday, the ostensibly disease-preventive body is promoting to no longer require people exposed to the virus to self-quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. Workers and students are only asked to wear a “high quality” mask for ten days and test for the virus on the fifth day. Oh, and practically no more contact tracing either – only in rare cases, under “simplified” guidelines. Vaccines are still encouraged, including any future boosters.
These are very surprising changes, especially since the latest variant, BA.5 – which has had high reinfection rates – hasn’t even been around for that long, while the yet-to-explain long-COVID phenomenon continues to disrupt lives many. Also missing from the new guidelines is even the suggestion whether people wear masks in crowded indoor spaces or transportation hubs.
Is it just us, or does it all sound pretty stupid, even by American standards? Obviously, people need to get on with their lives, but common sense precautions — like staying home when you test positive — would almost certainly save lives. Remember, this virus still kills nearly 500 Americans every day.
So really, what has changed? Could President Joe Biden’s valiant defeat of the viral virus have scared COVID into the shadow realm it came from? Between the ongoing Monkeypox epidemic and polio rampant in New York’s sewage, do public health authorities simply have too many new (or new old) diseases on their plate?
“We know COVID-19 is here to stay,” CDC epidemiologist Greta Massetti said at a press conference Thursday, according to The New York Times. “The high levels of population immunity from vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools we have to protect people from serious illness and death, have put us in a different position.”
As the NYT reports, some experts see the “simplified” guidelines – which appear to be much less focused on preventing the spread of disease and much more focused on preventing serious illness – as an exciting sign of progress.
“I think it’s a welcome change,” said Amesh Adalja, senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. NYT. “It actually shows how far we’ve come.”
Other experts, however, believe the CDC is more or less bowing to public pressure.
“I think [the CDC is] try to realize the reality that everyone in the public is pretty much done with this pandemic,” said Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, at the NYT.
Of course, Twitter users shared their thoughts on the new guidelines.
“Please continue to stay 6 feet away from me,” read an extremely brutal message. “I don’t care what the CDC says.”
“It looks like the Center for Disease has given up on control and prevention,” thinks another.
“What’s incredible is that the CDC is making these extraordinarily consequential decisions without any public input, any transparency, and virtually no explanation of their decision-making process,” said another“or the reasoning they used to balance priorities and competing interests”.
Yes, the COVID restrictions have been extremely inconvenient. But the CDC exists for a reason, and taking such a sharp turn on pandemic protocols, so suddenly, just feels wrong. And at the end of the day, inconvenience is better than, you know, dying – or, for that matter, hurting someone else.
READ MORE: CDC relaxes Covid guidelines, noting virus is ‘here to stay’ [The New York Times]
Learn more about diseases: Biden Admin declares Monkeypox a public health emergency