Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering loosening its isolation length recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals — particularly health care workers — who test positive for Covid-19 but don’t have symptoms.
Fauci’s comments were the strongest yet from the nation’s top infectious disease expert in favor of revisiting the CDC’s isolation guidance, which recommends 10 full days for people who have the virus, even if asymptomatic.
Fauci told CNN that “no decisions” have been made yet, but that a discussion is underway about allowing infected health care workers who are asymptomatic to return to work sooner, as new Covid cases and hospitalizations rise and are expected to put a strain on the health care system.
“For example, if you get a health care worker who is infected and without any symptoms at all, you don’t want to keep that person out of work too very long because, particularly if we get a run on hospital beds and the need for health care personnel, that’s something that at least will be considered, at least considered,” Fauci told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Fauci said it may be possible for heath care workers who test positive to end their isolation period sooner and get back to work if they don’t have symptoms and wear N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment.
The Omicron Covid-19 variant is now the most dominant strain in the United States, accounting for over 73% of new coronavirus cases last week. While they believe the Omicron variant to be more contagious, scientists are still waiting on data on the severity of the variant in the US compared with others, but so far, most Omicron cases appear to be mild among those fully vaccinated.
Fauci also said Tuesday that Americans who are fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19 should feel comfortable traveling for the holidays and gathering with family who are also fully vaccinated and boosted — so long as they’re careful.
“You want to be prudent and always be extra special careful, because you’re dealing with an unprecedented situation of a virus that has an extraordinary capability of transmitting,” he told CNN, adding, “When you’re in the home with vaccinated and boosted people, you can feel comfortable enjoying the holiday celebration.”
He stressed that vaccination is the “main frontline of protection” against Covid-19.
“Testing is important, as is masking. But the real important thing that people need to do is get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated fully, to get boosted,” he told CNN.
The CDC’s interim clinical considerations define “fully vaccinated” as having completed two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Fauci had previously said the CDC might consider redefining what it means to be “fully vaccinated” against Covid-19 to include a third dose of vaccine.
Asked Tuesday how often Americans should be tested now that cases are again on the rise, Fauci said it depends on the situation. He suggested that fully vaccinated Americans who received their booster may want to get tested if they wish to “go the extra mile.”
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