Americans have some new advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to live with COVID-19.

“We know that COVID 19 is here to stay,” the CDC’s Greta Massetti, an author of the guidelines, said in remarks to reporters.

The new guidance brings an end to the social distancing that became such a part of our lives at the height of the pandemic. In an acknowledgement of a change most of us had already made, the CDC says we no longer need to stay at least 6 feet apart in large settings.

“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” Massetti said.

The revised guidance lifts the requirement to quarantine if exposed to the virus, deemphasizes screening for people with no symptoms and updates COVID-19 protocols in schools, eliminating a recommendation that students test to stay in school after potential exposure.

The new guidance also brings the recommendations for unvaccinated people in line with those for people who are fully vaccinated — an acknowledgment of the high levels of population immunity in the United States as a result of vaccination, past COVID-19 infections or both.

“Based on the latest ... data, it’s around 95% of the population,” Massetti said, “and so it really makes the most sense to not differentiate.”

The new guidance continues to recommend isolation for anyone who tests positive.

That doesn’t mean locking yourself in your room. It means wearing a high-quality mask if you must be around others at home or in public. It means staying away from places where you can’t wear a mask, and it means avoiding travel.

It means staying home and separating from others as much as possible. Use a separate bathroom if you can, and do whatever you can to improve your home’s ventilation.

Avoid sharing personal items such as cups, towels and utensils.

If you had no symptoms, you can end isolation after day 5, but if you had symptoms, you can end isolation after day 5 only if you have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your symptoms are improving.

The CDC recommends 10 days of isolation for anyone who had moderate symptoms such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. The agency also urges the longer isolation for anyone whose symptoms were severe enough to require hospitalization and anyone with a weakened immune system.

The new guidance could be particularly important for schools, which are resuming classes this month in many parts of the country. Masks will be optional in most districts when classes resume this fall, and some of the nation’s largest districts have dialed back or eliminated COVID-19 testing requirements.

In a statement, the American Federation of Teachers said it welcomed the new guidance.

“After two years of uncertainty and disruption, we need as normal a year as possible so we can focus like a laser on what kids need,” said the organization’s president, Randi Weingarten.

That’s a sentiment we can all endorse.

The (Anderson) Herald-Bulletin

- The Herald-Bulletin

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