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CDC Eases COVID Guidelines

COVID-19 is here to stay.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic there was a misconception that COVID-19 was like the flu. Now, two-plus years into the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while not expressing it in those exact words, is acknowledging that COVID-19, like the flu, is here to stay and is not going away.

There is a big difference from the beginning of the pandemic and now due to multiple factors:

  • The disease is better understood
  • We have multiple vaccines available to protect people
  • There are antiviral medicines to treat infected people
  • Hospital treatments have evolved over time
  • Much of the population has been infected

Here is a quote from a Washington Post article on the situation:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened Covid-19 guidelines on Thursday, freeing schools and businesses from the onus of requiring unvaccinated people exposed to the virus to quarantine at home.

“The changes are a sharp move away from measures such as social distancing requirements and quarantining, which had polarized much of the country, and effectively acknowledge the way many Americans have been navigating the pandemic for some time. The agency’s action comes as children across the country return to school and many offices have reopened.

“‘We know that Covid-19 is here to stay,’ Greta Massetti, a C.D.C. epidemiologist, said at a news briefing on Thursday. ‘High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death, have put us in a different place.’

“The C.D.C.’s new guidelines come after more than two years of a pandemic in which more than one million Americans have died. With the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant of Omicron spreading, the United States is recording more than 100,000 cases and nearly 500 deaths a day on average. But many Americans dispensed with practices such as social distancing, quarantine and mask-wearing long ago.”

Still, 500 deaths a day is not something to sneeze at. And while the BA.5 subvariant of omicron rules the roost today, there will be future variants and one of them could be much more virulent.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.