CDC Updates Guidance for COVID-19 Infections, Exposures

Businesses struggle with staffing issues as omicron-variant-linked cases rise across the U.S.

January 03, 2022

Store with Open Sign

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on December 27 issued new guidelines that shortened the isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms from 10 days to five. The move could provide some help for retailers scrambling to staff their stores amid a surge in omicron-variant-linked cases.

The agency now says that “people with COVID-19 should isolate for five days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.”

CDC said the decision reflects the fact that “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.”

For people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the CDC “now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. Alternatively, if a five-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure. Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure,” the CDC said. The agency recommends that exposed people be tested after day five of exposure and if symptomatic, quarantine until they get a negative COVID-19 test.

“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director. “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”

Meanwhile, the latest increase in COVID-19 is impacting businesses from convenience stores to supermarkets to airlines, the Wall Street Journal reports. Labor was already tight, so as existing staff call out sick, some retail stores are cutting back on hours, while others are asking staff to pick up extra shifts.