CDC lowers isolation time guidance for COVID children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened its recommended isolation period for COVID-infected children from 10 days to five – but it remains unclear whether the state or city plans to implement the change.

Regardless of vaccination status, children who test positive for COVID-19 or show symptoms should isolate themselves, the CDC said late Thursday.

But children and everyone else can now leave isolation after five days if their condition improves or if they are without a fever, the CDC advised.

The agency has since taken it hot for not recommending a negative test before coming out of isolation.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky addressed this objection on NBC’s “Today” show Friday morning.

“We are now on the shoulders of many years of science that have shown that if you are infected, you are most contagious for one to two days before your symptoms and the two to three days after your symptoms,” Walensky told Savannah Guthrie. “So we know that the vast majority of your contagion on day five is really behind you.”

Two masked children.
The CDC now says children can get out of isolation after five days if they do not have a fever.
Shutterstock / Cavan pictures – Af

The CDC issued the same guidance to adults last week before formally extending the policy to include children.

With coronavirus cases rising in the country’s largest school system, some parents have demanded that the Department of Education shorten the student isolation period from 10 to five days in light of the new guidance.

Governor Kathy Hochul previously announced that key workers, including city teachers, could complete isolation after five days.

But it was unclear on Friday whether state or city officials were formally planning to change their child isolation policies given the CDC’s shift.

A girl in a room at a desk alone.
Earlier rules said children should isolate themselves for 10 days.
Shutterstock / Reading Studio

Some parents have argued that children should not be subjected to tougher COVID-19 policies than adults, especially as they generally have a lower risk of serious illness.

The CDC said Friday that infected children should continue to wear masks around others for another five days after their isolation.

A staggering 10,932 municipal school students in the city tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday alone, according to the agency’s website.

Unless the state’s isolation policy changes, these children will be unable to attend school for 10 days.


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