A quick guide to CDC’s new isolation guidelines

CDC updates COVID-19 guidelines in response to Omicron variant. Illustration by Ysabel Berger.

With a surge in cases of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shortened the isolation period from 10 days to five days with use of a mask. 

The first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was reported in the United States Dec. 1, 2021, according to a report from the CDC. The World Health Organization (WHO) identified Omicron as a “variant of concern,”meaning the variant is associated with steeply increasing case numbers and an increased risk of reinfection. Omicron is likely to spread two to three times faster than the Delta Variant, with cases doubling every two to four days, reported the New York Times

New findings about COVID-19 inspired the updates to quarantine and isolation periods. “The majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after,” states the CDC. 

If tested positive for COVID-19, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should follow these guidelines:

  • Stay home for five days
  • If an individual has no symptoms, or symptoms have resolved after five days, they are allowed to end isolation 
  • After the isolation period is ended, use of a tight-fitting mask for another five days is recommended

If you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19: 

  • Those with booster shots, or fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna in the past 6 months, and those who have received full J&J vaccinations within the past two months are advised to: 
    • Wear a mask around others for 10 days 
    • Test on day five 
  • Those who have received full Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations over six months ago and the J&J vaccine 2 months ago and have not received a booster shot, or individuals who are unvaccinated: 
    • Stay home for five days, then continue wearing a mask for five more days
    • If quarantine is not possible, wear a mask for ten days
    • Test on day five 

As of Monday, Jan. 3, Utah Valley University is still projected to host in-person classes, with some hybrid and online classes offered to students, although this is subject to change as the circumstances evolve. Masks are recommended on campus, and COVID-19 tests, vaccinations and booster shots are available for free on campus. 

A statement released by UVU on Monday further discussed masks on campus, along with other guidelines. They stated, “By Utah state law, masks are currently not required. Please be respectful of an individual’s choice regarding this topic. If you feel unsafe in an unmasked environment due to health concerns, it is acceptable to ask those around you to wear a mask.” 

In this statement, further COVID-19 protocols were discussed, such as monitoring case counts in classes. If a certain ‘trigger point’ of cases is activated, classes may be moved online. UVU continues to advise that students infected with COVID-19 need to isolate according to CDC guidelines and fill out a self-reporting form when infected. 

Case counts, vaccination sites, testing sites and more can be found on UVU’s COVID-19 Information Page

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