Rochelle Walensky says shortened COVID quarantine time could come ‘soon’

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that new guidelines to shorten isolation over COVID-19 could come “soon” — as the UK reduced the period in England from 10 to seven days.

During a Wednesday appearance on “CBS Mornings,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said officials were “actively examining” relevant data and “doing some modeling analyses to assess” whether to make any changes.
“And we anticipate that we’ll have some updates soon,” Walensky said.

Also Wednesday, the UK Health Security Agency said infected people in England don’t have to continue isolating if they test negative on the sixth and seventh days.

The HSA — the British equivalent of the CDC — said its analysis suggested a seven-day isolation period, combined with two negative tests, had nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without testing.

“We want to reduce the disruption from COVID-19 to people’s everyday lives,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.

Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told The Post that “the Biden administration needs to be more practical and less rigid.”

“It’s not feasible in the hospital, for example, to have staff leave their post for 10 days every time they think they’ve been exposed,” he said in an email.

The UK has said it wants to reduce the disruption COVID has on people’s lives.
Maureen McLean/Shutterstock

“We would have no one left to run our ICUs. A five-day quarantine period is badly needed to enable businesses to function.”

Dr. Bob Wachter, chairman of the University of California, San Francisco’s Department of Medicine, also told Axios that the surging omicron variant meant the CDC needed to take action.

“If it turns out that every doctor and nurse who tests positive needs to stay away for 10 days, we could be emptied of health care providers pretty quickly,” Wachter said.

Other medical professionals have tweeted recently that the CDC should revise its guidance.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky
Dr. Rochelle Walensky said officials were “actively examining” relevant data.

“Their current recommendations for 10 days of isolation regardless of vaccination status make no sense,” wrote Carlos del Rio, associate dean of the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta.

“If vaccinated (and specially if boosted), asymptomatic or with mild symptoms and neg Ag [antigen] test at day 5 should slow return to work.”

Indiana University’s chief health officer, Dr. Aaron Carroll, tweeted, “Mandatory 10-day isolation is going to make things really difficult for essential services.”

Dr. Lucy McBride — a Harvard-trained, Washington, DC, internist who writes a COVID-19 newsletter, also tweeted, “I thought CDC woulda changed isolation from 10 to 5 days for vax’d ppl infected w Delta.”

A rapid COVID-19 test swab is processed at Palos Verdes High School in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021
New guidelines to shorten isolation over COVID-19 in the US could come “soon.”
Brittany Murray/The Orange County Register via AP

On Tuesday, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian asked Walensky in a letter to cut the 10-day isolation period in half for vaccinated workers with “breakthrough” infections.

“Our employees represent an essential workforce to enable Americans who need to travel domestically and internationally,” he wrote,

“With the rapid spread of the omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce and operations.”

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