A preview of the plans obtained by CNN shows that the updated recommendations are expected to ease quarantine recommendations for people exposed to the virus and de-expose 6 feet of social media.
The agency is also expected to de-emphasize routine screening testing for Covid-19 in schools as a way to monitor the spread of the virus, according to sources who were briefed on the agency’s plans but were not authorized to talk to a reporter. Instead, he says it may be more useful to base testing on community levels of Covid-19 and whether there are higher-risk settings, such as nursing homes or prisons.
The changes, which could be released publicly as early as this week, were previewed to educators and public health officials. They are still being discussed and are not final.
In a statement to CNN, the agency said, “The CDC is constantly evaluating our guidance as science changes and will update the public as it happens.”
Testing-to-stay has strained resources for schools, and some districts have expressed concern that they have enough money to continue, one source said.
In schools and beyond, the agency will no longer recommend staying at least 6 feet away from others as a protective measure. Instead, the new guidelines aim to help people understand which types of locations are more dangerous than others because of things like poor ventilation, crowds and personal characteristics like age and underlying health.
The CDC is also set to ease quarantine requirements for people who are unvaccinated or not up to date on their Covid-19 vaccines. Currently, the agency recommends that people who are not up to date on their shots stay home for at least five days after close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. From now on, they will not have to stay at home but should wear a mask and get tested at least five days after exposure.
People who are sick with Covid-19 should still be isolated, the agency says.
The agency also plans to reiterate the importance of building ventilation as a way to help stop the spread of many respiratory diseases, not just Covid-19. It plans to encourage schools to do more to clean and freshen their indoor air.
Sources say the tweaks reflect both changing public attitudes toward the pandemic — many Americans have stopped wearing masks or social distancing — and a high level of basic immunity in the population. Screening of blood samples suggests that 95% of Americans have had or been vaccinated against Covid-19 since December, reducing the chance of getting seriously ill or dying if they do repeat it.
CDC recommendations are not legally binding. Many cities, states and school districts will review them but may ultimately pursue different strategies.
One example of this is masks in schools.
Still, the agency’s guidance remains important as a baseline. When cities or states try to go beyond what the CDC recommends, they can face pushback.