Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, explained why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened its recommended isolation time to five days for people infected with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic.
“The reason is that now that we have such an overwhelming volume of cases coming in, many of which are without symptoms, there’s the danger that this is going to have a really negative impact on our ability to really get society to function properly,” he said.
Fauci said that the CDC “made a decision to balance what’s good for public health at the same time as keeping the society running,” noting that the decision was not “100 percent risk-free.”
You can hear what Fauci said in the video below.
There has been some pushback to the new CDC guidance, which comes amid a surge of COVID-19 cases as a result of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services said it will not follow the new guidance until it reviews “the supporting evidence … while awaiting additional information, … specifically for special populations and in high-risk settings.”
“MDHHS will update Michigan’s guidance when additional information becomes available from the CDC,” the agency said in a statement issued Wednesday evening. “The delta variant has already fueled the current surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations. The high transmissibility of the omicron variant underscores the importance of Michiganders practicing the COVID mitigation practices that are known to reduce spread and risk.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has also responded to skeptics saying that the decision to shorten isolation times “really had a lot to do with what we thought people would be able to tolerate.”
“We have seen relatively low rates of isolation for all of this pandemic. Some science has demonstrated less than a third of people are isolating when they need to,” Walensky told CNN on Wednesday. “And so we really want to make sure that we had guidance in this moment — where we were going to have a lot of disease — that could be adhered to, that people were willing to adhere to and that spoke specifically to when people were maximally infectious.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.