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CDC considers requiring negative COVID test to exit isolation after 5 days, but will New York follow suit? What happens if they don’t?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is mulling over another possible change to isolation and quarantine guidance after getting significant pushback to changes made last week. The possible change of heart from Dr. Anthony Fauci comes as cases of COVID-19 surge amid the Omicron variant.

The White House’s top medical advisor told reporters on Sunday that health officials are considering adding a negative test to the five-day isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans.

The December 27, 2021 guidance received heavy criticism, as case numbers skyrocketed throughout the U.S. The guidance included shortened isolation from 10 days to five days if a person were no longer feeling symptoms or running a fever. 

After that, those individuals were asked to spend the following five days wearing a mask when around other people.

“There has been some concern about why we don’t ask people at that five-day period to get tested,” Fauci said. “Looking at it again, there may be an option in that, that testing could be a part of that, and I think we’re going to be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC.”

One problem, though, is New York’s guidance, which supersedes CDC recommendations. Counties in New York are following state guidance, which allow any person who is deemed an ‘essential worker’ to exit isolation after five days. 

Read that entire guidance here from state health officials.

For Dr. Fauci though, he says that essential services, like healthcare are going to be disrupted if isolation is not kept shorter at this point in the pandemic.

“When I say major disruption, you’re certainly going to see stresses on the system and the system being people with any kind of jobs … particularly with critical jobs to keep society functioning normally,” Fauci said. “We already know that there are reports from fire departments, from police departments in different cities that 10, 20, 25 and sometimes 30% of the people are ill. And that’s something that we need to be concerned about because we want to make sure that we don’t have such an impact on society that there really is a disruption. I hope that doesn’t happen.”

A decision could come this week on updating CDC guidance.