People who test positive for COVID-19 will now only have to self-isolate for as little as five days, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut the recommended isolation time from 10 days.
On Monday, the CDC announced the new guidelines for those who test positive but do not show symptoms, and those who have been exposed to the disease via contact with someone who has it.
Using data that shows the disease "occurs early in the course of illness," the CDC walked back from its earlier recommendation of a 10-day quarantine. The five days after self-isolation should now instead be followed by wearing a mask around others.
"Isolation for 5 days followed by wearing a well-fitting mask will minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others," the CDC said in a statement.
While the recommendation is primarily for people who are asymptomatic after the five days, those with symptoms can still go outside after that time if their symptoms are getting better.
Those who are unvaccinated or have not received a booster shot six months post-vaccination with a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna should follow the same protocol after contact with an infected person, while those who have received the booster shot do not need to isolate.
While the recommendation makes it easier for people to resume normal activities post-infection or exposure, some medical workers expressed concern that it may lead to a new surge of infections.
"We know what happened in May when the CDC dropped universal mask recommendations," Brown University's Associate Dean of Public Health Dr. Megan Ranney told CNN. "Nobody masked, whether vaccinated or not."