Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, January 18, 2022


U.S. health officials weigh tests amid shorter COVID quarantines

By Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. health officials are weighing the role of COVID-19 tests as part of their new guidelines shortening quarantines for people without symptoms, saying more details could come within days.

As the super-spreading Omicron variant spread nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic COVID-19 cases to five days from the previous guidance of 10 days.

The quarantine period should be followed by strict mask use for an additional five days, the CDC said, but it did not recommend testing.

Officials said the move sought to balance efforts to curb infection with freeing up essential workers, while some critics said tests should be required to end isolation.

“They have certainly received feedback and questions about the role of testing in shortening that quarantine period and they’re actually working right now on issuing a clarification on that,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN on Tuesday.

“They’re going to speak to the role that testing can play in a situation like reducing isolation,” he added.

He did not say what clarification the CDC planned, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky late Monday did not signal any formal testing requirement would be added.

If people have access to a rapid antigen test, they can “go ahead” and take it five days after testing positive if their symptoms are gone and they feel well, she told CBS’ “The Late Show” program.

“If it’s positive, stay home for another five days,” she said.

“If it’s negative, I would say you still really need to wear a mask” because the infection could still spread, she added. “You still should probably not visit grandma, you shouldn’t get on an airplane and you still should be pretty careful when you’re with other people.”

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, in television interviews on Sunday said officials were considering asking people to get tested after a five-day quarantine period.

All three officials belong to the White House COVID-19 Response Team, which is scheduled to meet with Biden at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT).

Biden’s administration and U.S. states are grappling with the latest wave of the novel coronavirus as the Omicron-driven spike threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

Airlines, schools, retailers and other sectors have also struggled as positive cases sideline workers even as officials say early data show the variant, while more contagious, may be milder.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; editing by Nick Zieminski)


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