Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was considering requiring that people who test positive for COVID-19 obtain a negative test before ending isolation. File Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI. | License Photo
Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may alter its recent guidance for people who test positive for COVID-19 by requiring a negative test before ending isolation.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News This Week, that changes to the guidance released on Monday stating that people infected with COVID-19 can end isolation after five days if they are asymptomatic, followed by five days of mask-wearing around others, were being considered.
"There has been some concern about why we don't ask people at that five-day period to get tested. That is something that is now under consideration. The CDC is very well aware that there has been some pushback about that," Fauci said.
The CDC made no requirement for testing in the guidance but said that "best practice" for all those exposed to COVID-19 would be to get tested five days after exposure.
The guidance was met with pushback from the nation's largest nurse's union and a major flight attendant union as well as criticism from public health officials including former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
"Regardless of what CDC says, you really should try to obtain an antigen test (I know -- easier said than done) and confirm it's negative prior to leaving isolation and quarantine. There's not a scientist or doctor I've met yet who wouldn't do this for themselves/their family," Adams wrote on Twitter.
The CDC guidance came just before the agency reported a pandemic record of more than 580,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the last day it reported data before the New Year's holiday.
Overall the United States has reported 54,913,635 COVID-19 cases and 825,868 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.
Several states recorded new records or near-record highs in daily infections in the final days of 2021 amid the presence of the Omicron variant.
On Saturday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state had reported a record 85,476 new cases on New Year's Eve, its highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic.
Fauci, however, on Sunday said while he remained "very concerned" about the threat of the virus to unvaccinated Americans, he believes less focus can be placed on mild cases of infections among the vaccinated.
"As you get further on and infections become less severe, it is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases," he said.
Throughout the United States, 99,763 inpatient hospital beds at nearly 6,000 reporting hospitals were in use by COVID-19 patients and 74.97% of all inpatient beds nationwide were in use overall, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
In its last update on Thursday, the CDC reported that 73.3% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine while 62% have been fully vaccinated. Among fully vaccinated Americans 33.4% have received an additional booster dose.