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Q: How long should you isolate after you test positive for COVID? Why did the CDC change the guidelines

Based on what we now know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the CDC has shortened its recommended isolation time. The agency now says that people with COVID should stay home and isolate for five days. After that, if you have no symptoms, or your symptoms are resolving (fever-free for at least 24 hours), you can leave your house. You should continue to wear a mask when around others (even in your household) for an additional five days. And of course, follow masking guidelines set in place by state or county rules at all times.

These recommendations apply to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

The guidelines changed because scientists found that people are most infectious early in their illness. The vast majority of COVID transmission occurs in the day or two before symptoms begin, and for two to three days after.

Remember that the best way to protect yourself against severe illness caused by COVID-19 is to wear a mask and get vaccinated. The COVID vaccine including the booster dose has proven to be the most effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19. People who have been fully vaccinated are much less likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.