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CDC stands by guidance to end isolation without negative COVID-19 test

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under Director Rochelle Walensky, updated its COVID-19 guidance on Tuesday explaining that those isolating who wish to take a test may do so but one is not required to end their five-day quarantine. Pool File Photo by Stefani Reynolds/UPI
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, under Director Rochelle Walensky, updated its COVID-19 guidance on Tuesday explaining that those isolating who wish to take a test may do so but one is not required to end their five-day quarantine. Pool File Photo by Stefani Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Amid pushback from health and industry professionals, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance that maintained its stance that a negative COVID-19 test is not required to end isolation.

The CDC has come under criticism from health experts after the agency last week shortened the period of isolation from 10 days to five for people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic, stating they may stop isolating without a negative coronavirus test result but must continue wearing a mask around others for five more days.

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The CDC said that an individual can end isolation after five days if there is no fever without the use of medication for 24 hours and if other COVID-19-related symptoms have improved.

In the updated guidance on Tuesday, the CDC advised those who voluntarily wanted to take a test to do so toward the end of their five-day isolation period.

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If the result comes back positive, the CDC said individuals should continue to isolate until 10 days after their symptoms first developed. With a negative test, individuals can leave isolation but "should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10."

In a statement explaining the update, the CDC said the shortened period of isolation focuses on when a person is most infectious and added that it facilitates "individual social and well-being needs, return to work and maintenance of crucial infrastructure."

After the CDC initially announced its guidance last week, the nation's largest nursing union, National Nurses United, and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA raised concerns.

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"We cannot allow pandemic fatigue to lead to decisions that extend the life of the pandemic or put policies on the backs of workers," AFA President Sara Nelson said in a statement last week.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams also criticized the decision, saying that no doctor or scientist he knows would allow themselves or their family members to exit isolation before testing negative for the virus.

"Regardless of what CDC says, you really should try to obtain an antigen test ... and confirm it's negative prior to leaving isolation and quarantine," he tweeted.

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Amid the criticism, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC News This Week that the CDC is aware of the pushback and was considering whether to include testing as a requirement going forward.

"There may be an option in that, that testing could be a part of that," he said. "And I think we're going to be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC."

Ahead of the expected CDC update to its guidance on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki fielded questions from reporters in Washington and explained that the nation's leading health agency makes changes in real time in response to the changing pandemic and does not lead "with a clear communications plan."

"They are just continuing to assess every day, every week what they can update based on the science," she said. "And sometimes that means changing recommendations, that means adding to recommendations. But that's what happens when you lead with the data and the science."

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