ATLANTA (NewsNation) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased its coronavirus safety guidelines on Thursday and dropped the longstanding recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.
The agency also did away with the recommendation that people need to stay six feet apart.
The changes, which come more than two and a half years after the start of the pandemic, are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected, agency officials said.
“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” said the CDC’s Greta Massetti, an author of the guidelines.
The CDC also dropped a “test-to-stay” recommendation, which said students exposed to COVID-19 could regularly test — instead of quarantining at home — to keep attending school. With no quarantine recommendation anymore, the testing option disappeared too.
Masks continue to be recommended only in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness.
The agency continues to say that people who test positive should isolate from others for at least five days, regardless of whether they were vaccinated. CDC officials advise that people can end isolation if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and if they are without symptoms or the symptoms are improving.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.