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CDC updates COVID-19 guidelines, impacting New York’s approach to virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its longstanding COVID-19 guidance, signaling a shift in response to the pandemic’s current stage. Previously, the CDC recommended individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 to isolate at home for at least five days. However, the new guidelines suggest staying home only until fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and when symptoms are improving. This change comes as New York state considers the future of mandated COVID sick leave policies in the workplace.

Dr. Thomas Russo, an infectious disease expert at the University at Buffalo, notes that the updated CDC recommendations align more closely with those for other respiratory viruses, like RSV and influenza, reflecting the decrease in COVID-19 related deaths and hospitalizations. Despite these encouraging trends, Russo cautions that COVID-19 still poses a significant threat, especially to vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised, with the country averaging over a thousand deaths weekly.

As New York adapts to these new CDC guidelines, Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget proposes to let the specific COVID-19 sick leave law expire in July. Until then, the New York Department of Labor will maintain its current enforcement of the policy. This development, along with the CDC’s updated guidance, represents a step toward normalizing the handling of COVID-19 in line with other respiratory illnesses, though continued vigilance remains essential.