On March 1, 2024, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated COVID-19 guidance for community settings. According to the update, people who have tested positive can return to normal activities when they are fever-free for at least 24 hours without taking medication; thus, they no longer need to isolate for five days.

The CDC also recommends that those people who return to work use additional prevention strategies for the next five (5) days to help curb the virus’ spread. As a result, the CDC’s new guidance now matches public health advice for flu and other respiratory illnesses. That advice is to stay home when you’re sick, but return to school or work once you’re feeling better and you’ve been without a fever for 24 hours.

The revisions result from  decreases in the most severe outcomes of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as the realization that many people are no longer testing themselves for COVID-19.

Source: NBC News

Excerpts from the CDC’s New Guidance

Stay home and away from others (including people you live with who are not sick) if you have respiratory virus symptoms that aren’t better explained by another cause. These symptoms can include fever, chills, fatigue, cough, runny nose, and headache, among others.*

  • You can go back to your normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, both are true:
    • Your symptoms are getting better overall, and
    • You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication).
  • When you go back to your normal activities, take added precaution over the next five (5) days, such as taking additional steps for cleaner air, hygiene, masks, physical distancing, and/or testing when you will be around other people indoors.
    • Keep in mind that you may still be able to spread the virus that made you sick, even if you are feeling better. You are likely to be less contagious at this time, depending on factors like how long you were sick or how sick you were.
    • If you develop a fever or you start to feel worse after you have gone back to normal activities, stay home and away from others again until, for at least 24 hours, both are true: your symptoms are improving overall, and you have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication). Then take added precaution for the next five (5) days.

*Symptoms may include but are not limited to chest discomfort, chills, cough, decrease in appetite, diarrhea, fatigue (tiredness), fever or feeling feverish, headache, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, vomiting, weakness, wheezing.