Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on CBS Mornings Friday that the CDC didn’t pivot its recommendations around Covid-19 isolation, but instead provided guidance for those who chose to take an antigen test.
“I remind you, isolation is for people who have had a positive test,” she said, when asked about changes to the isolation guidance. “We have now dozens of papers that are now on our CDC website that we’ve reviewed to update this guidance in the context of the science and the epidemiology of our time.”
She said that it is known that for the one to two days prior to infection and two to three days after symptoms is the time when a person is maximally infectious. By day five, after symptoms, “most of that infectiousness, that contagiousness is really behind you,” she said.
“That’s really where we say: Do you have symptoms? If your symptoms are better, you’re safe to go out as long as you’re wearing a mask all the time,” she said. “What we heard over the last week is many people were interested in using an antigen test, they had access to the antigen test.”
“So, we did not pivot our recommendations, what we did is we provided guidance for how you’d use and interpret that antigen test, if you so chose to take the extra step to get one,” she said. “And that is, if it’s positive, stay home. And if it’s negative, please continue to wear your mask, because that does not mean you’re no longer infectious.”
Asked if tests would be required before leaving isolation if tests were widely available and if access was no object, Walensky said that “we require tests for leaving quarantine — quarantine being this period of time after you’ve been exposed. What I do want to say is that we have to provide guidance that is, you know, grounded in science, that is grounded in the epidemiology of our current moment in time and implementable at the state and local jurisdictional level.”
“If they can’t get a test, they should wear a mask,” Walensky said, when asked what people who couldn’t get a test after the five days of isolation should do. “And that’s actually really what our guidance says, isolate for those first five days, after those first five days, make sure you’re feeling better, if you’re feeling better then you really can go out, but you need to go out and you need to be wearing your mask all the time.”
Walensky also addressed criticism around communicating the guidelines, saying “we’re working 24/7, 12,000 people to keep America safe, to update our guidance in the context of really fast moving science and really fast moving epidemiology. We have room, we can improve in our communications of how we convey that science to the American people. We will continue to do so. We’ve gotten some criticism, but we’ve also gotten quite a bit of endorsement of these new guidance.”