CDC relaxes safety guidelines for COVID-19 infection

It was four years ago, on March 13, 2020, that the United States shut down in an effort to control the COVID-19 virus. Now, with fewer people dying from the disease and a great number of Americans vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has relaxed its guidelines for those dealing with new cases of the infection.

CDC reports that 1,178,527 persons died from COVID-19 as of Feb. 10, 2024. Weekly hospital admissions have decreased by more than 75% and deaths by more than 90%, compared to January 2022, the peak of the initial Omicron wave.

Complications like multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children are now also less common and prevalence of Long COVID also appears to be decreasing, according to CDC.

Today, more than 98% of the U.S. population has some degree of protective immunity against the disease from vaccination, prior infection, or both.


On March 1, CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen issued new guidelines to protect yourself and others from the effects of COVID.

“However, we still must use the commonsense solutions we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious illness from respiratory viruses — this includes vaccination, treatment and staying home when we get sick,” she said.

As part of the guidance, CDC provides active recommendations on core prevention steps and strategies:
Staying up to date with vaccination to protect people against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. This includes flu, COVID-19, and RSV if eligible.

Practicing good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes, washing or sanitizing hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.

Taking steps for cleaner air, such as bringing in more fresh outside air, purifying indoor air, or gathering outdoors.

CDC recommendations call for persons sick with a respiratory virus to stay home and away from others. For people with COVID-19 and influenza, treatment is available and can lessen symptoms and lower the risk of severe illness.

The recommendations suggest returning to normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, symptoms are improving overall, and if a fever was present, it has been gone without use of a fever-reducing medication. Once people resume normal activities, they are encouraged to take additional prevention strategies for the next five days to curb disease spread, such as taking more steps for cleaner air, enhancing hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses.

Enhanced precautions are especially important to protect those most at risk for severe illness, including those over 65 and people with weakened immune systems.

CDC’s updated guidance reflects how the circumstances around COVID-19 in particular have changed. While it remains a threat, today it is far less likely to cause severe illness because of widespread immunity and improved tools to prevent and treat the disease.

Statistics show over 95% of adults hospitalized in 2023-24 due to COVID-19 had no record of receiving the latest vaccine.

Treatment with Paxlovid in persons at high risk of severe disease has been shown to decrease risk of hospitalization by 75% and death by 60% in recent studies.

COVID-19 remains a greater cause of severe illness and death than other respiratory viruses, but the differences between these rates are much smaller than they were earlier in the pandemic.

Hospital admissions for COVID-19 peaked in January 2022 with more than 150,000 admissions per week, based on data from CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) covering all U.S. hospitals.

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