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Unvaccinated people who are exposed to the coronavirus no longer need to quarantine, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The revised recommendation, released Thursday, serves as a modification "streamline", health officials said, aligning with guidance for those who are up to date on shots. Previously, the American public health agency recommended that unvaccinated people, or those not up to date on boosters, quarantine for five days after exposure.
In addition, people no longer need to stay six feet away from others, the agency said in a memo.
"We're in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19," Greta Massetti, a senior epidemiologist at the CDC, said in a news release. "We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation."
"This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives," she added.
The CDC now advises that those exposed to the virus should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days, and to get tested for the viral disease on day five.
If a person tests positive for COVID, they should stay at home for at least five days and isolate from others inside their home.
"We know that COVID-19 is here to stay," Massetti said at a news briefing on Thursday, per The New York Times. "High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death, have put us in a different place."
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According to the newspaper, only 30% of 5- to 11-year-olds have received their first vaccine, 60% of 12- to 17-year-olds their primary dose, and 65% of adults 65 and older have received a booster shot.
Two and a half years after the pandemic began, an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have gained some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected, the CDC said, the Associated Press reported.
In the future, the CDC says it "will work to align stand-alone guidance documents, such as those for healthcare settings, congregate settings at higher risk of transmission, and travel," with Thursday's update.