‘We came a long way’: CDC plans to drop 5 day COVID-19 isolation guidelines

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The United States has seen several changes and key milestones since the pandemic started in 2020, and now the country is expected to see another critical change, according to a new report, nearly four years after Washington saw its first reported COVID-19 death.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce that Americans who test positive for the coronavirus will no longer need to stay home from work or school for five days, as currently required by the agency’s guidelines, according to the Washington Post.

This would be the first time the agency is loosening its COVID-19 restrictions since 2021.

The CDC is expected to align its COVID guidance with similar measures on how to avoid transmitting the flu and RSV.

Within the report, officials said most people have developed a stronger level of immunity to the virus, and as a result, officials are expected to adjust their approach to the virus.

The CDC plans to recommend that people who test positive for the coronavirus will no longer have to isolate if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the help of any medication, and their symptoms are mild and improving.

According to the Washington Post, the White House has yet to sign off on the agency’s guidance which is expected to be released in April for public feedback.

Efforts to update the isolation guidelines have been underway since last August, the report added.


The report comes nearly four years after Washington saw its first reported COVID-19 death in February of 2020.

“We came a long way,” said Kevin Phi, who lives near Kirkland’s Life Care Center, ground zero for the United States. “It was really scary for a while,”

He continued, “It was scary. It was scary. I mean they found it here.”

Back in 2020, the federal government launched a federal investigation into Kirkland’s Life Care Center.

At the time, King County officials confirmed 16 of the 17 COVID-19 deaths were linked to the care center.

Nearly 10 months later after Life Care Center of Kirkland was identified as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, vaccinations began rolling out.

KIRO 7 reached out to Kirkland’s Life Care Center to get its thoughts on the CDC’s expected announcement and the upcoming four-year anniversary.

We’re still waiting to hear back.

“It is a virus and it will go around,” said Pih. “Am I concerned? Yeah, because it is a virus and it does go around.”

Pih said he trusts science and health experts, however, he said he believes the isolation period has been critical to limiting the spread of the virus while keeping people safe, especially people whose health is at risk.

“I think it’s still pretty wise, if you get it, stay home, be isolated, try not to pass it on because for healthy people, yeah you get over it in a few days, but for some people, there are long term effects,” he said. “It’s not something you want to pass around. It does mutate. So you don’t know what the next thing is going to be. Any living organism will only get stronger.”

He continued, “If I tested positive, I will still isolate myself. I will do it because this is not a fun thing to go through and I don’t want to give it to anyone else.”

KIRO 7 also spoke with small business owners to understand how the expected announcement would affect them.

One business owner, who runs a daycare center in Kirkland and did not want to speak on camera, said she and her staff members will continue to isolate for five days if they test positive for the coronavirus.

She said protecting her staff and the children is her first priority.

However, another business owner shared different thoughts with us.

“I’m happy to hear that common sense is coming to the equation,” said Bill Henkens, owner of The Game Neighborhood Grill & Bar. “We have had a  number of employees over the course since this first started in 2020 that had been out, sometimes for 14 days. This state does allow them to take sick leave, which helps them a little bit, but if you’re a tip employee, that’s a hardship for them.”

Henkens said he had to use Paycheck Protection Program funds to help his business stay afloat during the pandemic, while many other local small businesses were forced to shut down.

He said the expected announcement could give his and other businesses in the area a boost of support.

“When you have a limited staff like this, somebody has called out for five days, somebody has to fill in those hours,” he said. “That typically pushes them into overtime. So it would give us an opportunity to save some labor dollars.”

Henkens said he would still require his 22 staff members to stay home if they test positive until they feel better.

KIRO 7 asked Henkens if he would have any concerns about workers, who test positive for COVID, returning to work too soon, and possibly spreading the virus to other staff members and customers.

“I don’t have that concern at all,” he responded. “I think that’s the right decision because COVID sometimes, they don’t have any symptoms. Sometimes they get sick. So we want our staff to stay home so we’re not spreading through the rest of the group. I think it’s a personal decision. And if they don’t have a fever, and they’re not feeling bad, they can come back to work.”