New CDC isolation, quarantine guidelines spark debate online, within medical community

Just one day after the CDC cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus, there has been plenty of disagreement about whether the new guidelines are the right call.

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The CDC announced on Monday that if a person tests positive, regardless of vaccination status, the recommended quarantine time was now five days as opposed to the previous 10 days if the person is asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving.

The guidance recommends five additional days of masking for that person after they leave their isolation.

There is also no negative test required to leave that isolation, regardless of vaccination status. 

Il Pizzico owner Enzo Livia has run his Rockville restaurant for 31 years. They follow CDC and Montgomery County guidance with staff wearing masks and employees quarantining for 10 days if they get sick, a tough blow with the already-skeleton staff.

He says the move to five days of quarantining plus five days of wearing a mask is helpful but admits it makes him nervous.

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"It’s risky," he says. "You don’t know after five days if a person is still contagious or not. Nobody has really said. The guidance is not clear in terms of whether this person is 100 percent clear from spreading the disease or not."

Erin Bromage is a UMass-Dartmouth professor who disagrees with the CDC’s new guidance. His research shows people can still be infectious after five days even if they’re feeling better, something he thinks the masking requirement partially covers.

He thinks a negative test should be required to leave isolation.

"If you are infected and you do have symptoms and you work in a place where there are people at risk, or you want to visit family members who would be at risk to poorer outcomes, this is not the guidance and policy for you," Bromage says. "You really should wait longer before you get together with those people who your infection could put them at risk for their own health."

Gigi Gronvall with Johns Hopkins agrees with the CDC’s update, adding people who are asymptomatic should be able to get back to work or school, and this new guidance is needed.


"We need to have a more realistic guidance for people who have already taken steps to protect themselves and are not suffering the kinds of illness that we primarily see in unvaccinated people," Gronvall says.