Flint, MI—This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 guidance, rolling back quarantine recommendations and loosening guidelines on measures like COVID testing.

The changes came as CDC officials say the population has high levels of immunity from vaccination and previous infection, as well as access to tools like vaccines, boosters and treatments to reduce the risk of severe illness. 

Heatherlun Uphold, an assistant professor at the MSU Division of Public Health and Department of Translational Neuroscience, explained in an email that the guidelines serve as another step to normalize COVID “by putting the responsibility back on individuals and not schools or institutions or workplaces.”

Uphold further reminded the public that COVID isn’t going anywhere, regardless of how people feel about it. 

“It’s true that the updated guidelines are easier for people to follow, however we still need to take COVID seriously,” she said. “There are still nearly 500 people dying every day from COVID.” 

As of Aug. 21, 2022, an average of about 460 people die of COVID daily in the U.S, according to The New York Times. And there’s an average of roughly 15 daily COVID deaths in Michigan and one COVID death occurring every day in Genesee County. 

Getting vaccinated, staying up to date with boosters, testing after being exposed to COVID and isolating if testing positive, are all strategies that the CDC continues to recommend. 

But the CDC’s guidelines for quarantine and isolation do not differ by vaccination status anymore. Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC advises people to get tested on Day 5 and to wear a high-quality mask through Day 10 instead of quarantining, if they come into close contact with someone with COVID. For most settings, the CDC no longer recommends COVID testing if people without symptoms have no known exposure to the virus. 

Individuals should isolate at home in the case that their testing returns positive, the CDC advises. People could end isolation after Day 5 if symptoms are improving, they are free of fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication, or never had symptoms. Those with a weakened immune system or moderate or severe illness should isolate through Day 10. For individuals who have ended isolation, they should restart isolation if symptoms recur or worsen. 

General mask recommendations remain the same. For counties with high COVID community levels, including Genesee County as of Aug. 18, 2022, the CDC recommends masking indoors while in public and on public transportation, among other precautions.

COVID community level is determined by the rate of COVID cases, hospitalization rate and hospital capacity. In Genesee County, there were about 211 COVID cases per 100,000 people from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17, according to the CDC. For every 100,000 people, there were close to 11 new COVID hospital admissions from Aug. 10 to Aug. 16. During the same period, an average of nearly six percent of staffed inpatient beds were occupied by COVID patients.

Dr. Son Phung, the medical director of Genesee Community Health Center, advises people to stay up to date with the CDC’s COVID recommendations, and they can reach out to their healthcare providers for further guidance. 

See below for more information about COVID.

CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC

Flint Center for Health Equity Solutions’ monthly COVID-19 Health Equity Briefs for Flint and Genesee County: http://www.flintcenter.org/health-equity-briefs/

Flint Community Webinar On Coronavirus: https://www.hfrcc.org/community-webinar

Genesee County Health Department: https://www.gchd.us/coronavirus/

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...