The CDC recommended those who test positive wear a high-quality mask through day 10, regardless of their symptoms. People who experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing while they have COVID-19 should isolate for the full 10 days, as should individuals with weakened immune systems.
And the agency warned those whose symptoms worsen after day 10 should restart isolation at day zero.
Despite the new guidance, the pandemic is hardly over: An average of roughly 6,200 Americans are hospitalized every day with the virus, 395 Americans die per day, and more than 107,000 test positive for COVID-19 daily. By comparison, COVID-19 hospitalizations were as low as 2,300 cases a day in May and 5,000 cases per day beginning in July. Public health experts have repeatedly said they anticipate the infection rate to increase in the fall and winter.
Still, many Americans have made it clear they're done with COVID-19 mitigation practices. Less than half of Americans ages 18 and up have received their first booster shot, and only 32 percent of people ages 50 and up have received their second COVID-19 booster shot, according to CDC data.
These new guidelines, meant to streamline COVID-19 protocol, came the same day that the Food and Drug Administration recognized that at-home COVID-19 rapid tests are not always effective and made the home testing guidelines a bit more complex.