State and local health officials say they are struggling to make sense of the new Covid-19 isolation and Quarantine guidelines from the US CDC. CDC released the updated advice, which cuts in half the recommended times for staying away from others, with little consultation or preparation.
Lori Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) said that they are trying to digest it now and what it means and how to communicate it effectively. The confusion has left the CDC open to accusations that the decision was made based on politics or lobbying pressure, Freeman said.
The new guidelines for the public, released Monday, allow for people who test positive for Covid-19 to leave isolation after five days if their symptoms are gone or getting better, so long as they wear masks for at least five more days. As for Quarantine, people who have received booster doses of vaccine are advised that they may safely stay out and about, even if exposed to the virus if they wear masks for 10 days, and even the unvaccinated may leave Quarantine after five days.
In the past, such a big change in recommendations would have first been run by expert groups such as NACCHO for input. They would have carefully explained in the media. State and local health officials are often on the front line of communication about new policies, and they got no warning or preparation for the latest update. The CDC did not provide posters, charts or visual aids, or any of the background that might help communicate the new advice to the public.