Asymptomatic people only need to isolate for 5 days now.
Merry pandemic season three, in which everyone in America is once again confused about how to stay safe from COVID and health officials unanimously agree on absolutely nothing. Yesterday, the CDC released new, shorter recommended isolation times for asymptomatic people infected with COVID from ten days to five days. This guidance is prompting some of us to wonder what’s behind the rush to get people out of their sick beds and back to work so quickly. I smell more than a hint of capitalism.
The CDC says their decision to change recommended quarantine times is mostly based on science. “The majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimize the risk of infecting others,” the CDC said in a statement on their website. In other words, the CDC is saying it’s okay for infected people to come out of quarantine after five days if they don’t have any symptoms and stay masked up.
The new guidelines have created intense Twitter debates among both doctors and laypeople. One of the issues that some doctors have with the CDC’s new shortened recommendation is that it doesn’t take testing into account. Some doctors think that someone who has been sick with COVID should have a negative antigen test before leaving quarantine. It’s pretty hard to find a rapid, at-home antigen test right now, though, so requiring a negative test would make it harder for people to get back to the daily grind.
But, what’s the rush anyways? W.H.O. hasn’t changed their recommendations for quarantine, so even though the pandemic is global, it’s really just the U.S. that’s trying to get people out of their into the office ASAP. The CDC has been contemplating this shortened quarantine since last November, but some critics note that this decision came less than a week after the CEO of Delta requested that the CDC change their guidelines so that holiday air travel wouldn’t be interrupted due to sick employees. Ahem.
Experts such as Anthony Fauci say that the CDC is not pandering to corporate interests at the risk of public health, but is instead just trying to make sure America stays open. "We want to get people back to the jobs, particularly the essential jobs, to keep society running smoothly," Fauci told CNN. “There are a lot of people in society that are essential for the smooth running of the infrastructure of our society.” I don’t know about you, but that line of reasoning sounds a lot less like science and a lot more like business to me.
Look, no one wants people who are well to be forced into lonely isolation. And most people don’t want the economy to collapse. Personally, I am here for the violent and inevitable demise of capitalism, but I don’t want it to come at the expense of workers' lives.