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CDC winds down much of remaining COVID-19 guidance. Some remain hesitant of change

CDC winds down much of remaining COVID-19 guidance
CDC winds down much of remaining COVID-19 guidance 02:10

BALTIMORE - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is backing off much of its remaining guidelines surrounding COVID-19. 

From isolating to masking, the agency points to improvements in hospitalization rates and deaths stemming from the virus this past season for the updates.

The CDC says it's aiming to offer advice that blends federal recommendations for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. 

The agency believes the changes will make guidance simpler and more likely to be followed.

It's the first time since 2021 the CDC has made changes to its COVID-19 guidance. 

"We now have more aligned guidance for dealing with respiratory infections, which often go unreported and untested," said Dr. Stuart Ray, Johns Hopkins Professor of Medicine in Infectious Diseases.

The CDC's recommendations now mirror public health advice for other respiratory illnesses, such as flu and RSV.

They include: Stay home when you're sick but return to work or school once you're feeling better, and without a fever for 24 hours.

"You no longer need to isolate for five days after getting a COVID diagnosis," Ray said.

The CDC says those who are at higher risk should still test to access available treatments. 

On the recovery end of COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses, the CDC still suggests masking for five days after no longer staying home, as a precaution.

"The evidence supports that masks do prevent the transmission of these respiratory viruses and testing can help us inform what we're doing," Ray said.

The updates took some Marylanders by surprise.

"You should wear the mask if you had to go out," said Baltimore resident Peggy Redmiles.

"If it takes longer than one day, I'm taking longer than one day," added Baltimore resident Ingrid Thornton. "I might pass it on to someone with a low resistance, somebody old or a baby."

The CDC cites the guidance is changing now because most of the United States' population has some immunity against the virus, leading to diminished hospitalization and death rates.

Data from Maryland shows hospital admissions are low in all counties, with more than 260 inpatients. 

But health experts warn to remain vigilant. 

"We still don't know the long-term consequences of COVID," Ray said. "We're seeing people with persistent symptoms and some of them, really severe, disabling symptoms after COVID and we don't understand that completely."

With this guidance now relaxed, and masking optional, Ray says the safest way to get to immunity from COVID remains getting as many people vaccinated as possible. 

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