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C.D.C. Shortens Isolation Period for People With Covid

Americans with Covid or other respiratory infections need not isolate for five days before returning to work or school, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday, a striking sign of changing attitudes toward the coronavirus.

People with respiratory illnesses may resume daily activities if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the aid of medications and if their symptoms are improving, agency officials said.

Acknowledging that people can be contagious even without symptoms, the C.D.C. urged those who end isolation to limit close contact with others, wear well-fitted masks, improve indoor air quality and practice good hygiene, like washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes.

The guidelines apply to Covid, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, among other respiratory ailments, which should make it easier for people to comply, Dr. Mandy Cohen, the C.D.C.’s director, told reporters on Friday.

“Our goal here is to continue to protect those at risk for severe illness, while also reassuring folks that these recommendations are simple, clear, easy to understand and can be followed,” she said.

Dr. Cohen noted the sharp decreases in the numbers of Covid-related hospitalizations and deaths this winter compared with those in previous years, and said a vast majority of hospitalizations had occurred among Americans who did not receive the latest shots.

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