Recently, the CDC has updated its guidance for individuals to be able to live safely with COVID-19 in their communities without long disruptions to daily life. We are transitioning to life after a year and a half of vaccinations, which are safe, effective, and continue to be the best defense against COVID-19. The new guidance revolves around four key measures to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
The four key measures are 1) knowing your risk, 2) protecting yourself and your loved ones, 3) taking action if exposed, and 4) taking action if you become sick or test positive. The biggest change from the CDC relates to quarantine, and physical distance. As new data and information evolve, safety recommendations will continue to streamline to keep up with the science. This is normal and expected. Individuals should be aware that the pandemic is still ongoing, strive for self-resiliency, and to know the COVID-19 Community Levels in their neighborhood.
Knowing your risk
What does it mean to know your risk? – Knowing your risk means that you as an individual must be active and the primary driver of your health. Individuals with underlying health conditions, chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung disease, and those who are immunocompromised continue to be at higher risk. Follow the guidance of your healthcare provider, practice wellness, and be your own health advocate. Your knowledge is your power to keep yourself and others safe.
What does it mean to protect yourself? – Protect yourself and your family by staying up to date with your vaccine doses and booster doses to avoid potentially putting yourself, the people around you, and your community at risk. The FDA-approved vaccines have been administered to more than 223,457, 170 individuals who are five years of age and older. The vaccines are safe, effective, and remain the best defense against severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
For 18 years and older, there are four approved vaccines which are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, and Novavax. For children, from six months to 17 years old there are two approved vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
The six feet social distance rule is no more. It is still important to practice effective hand hygiene by washing your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Wear a high-quality mask indoors during HIGH COVID-19 Community Levels, and avoid crowded, unventilated areas.
Take action if exposed
What does it mean to take action if exposed? – CDC no longer recommends individuals to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19. The recommendation now is to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days around others and get tested on day 5. An N-95 mask is a good example of a high-quality mask. If at any time during the 10 days you test positive or develop symptoms, then you should follow the CDC isolation recommendations after testing positive for COVID-19.
Take action if you are sick or test positive
What does it mean to take action if you are sick or test positive? – Taking action if you are sick or test positive means that if you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, then stay home for five days and isolate yourself from others in your home The first five days after a positive test is when you are most infectious. If you must be around others in your home, then both you and the other individuals in your home should wear a well-fitted mask; preferably an N-95 mask.
Ensure that your home is well ventilated with fresh clean air by opening windows and doors to let in the fresh air. A good filtration system for the vents in your home with HEPA filters is a good idea too. This should help to reduce the chances of others in your home getting exposed.
Do avoid being around people who could become severely ill. Please note that the elderly is particularly vulnerable and individuals who are immunocompromised such as someone who is receiving cancer treatments or immune suppression therapy for a disease. Individuals who have a weakened immune system may require longer isolation from 10 to 20 days depending on test results and symptoms that they may be experiencing.
The CDC changes are designed to continue the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 to avoid severity and disruption to daily life. You should continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 by knowing your risk, protecting yourself and others, taking action if exposed, and taking action if you are sick or testing positive for the virus. For more information, please visit us at houstonhealth.org, click COVID-19, then click COVID-19 Education to learn more.
CDC, (August 11, 2022), COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations_vacc-total-admin-rate-total Retrieved on August 18, 2022.
CDC, (August 11, 2022), CDC streamlines COVID-19 guidance to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risk, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/p0811-covid-guidance.html Retrieve on August 18, 2022.
CDC, (July 20, 2022), COVID-19 Vaccines for People who are Moderately or Severely Immunocompromised https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html Retrieved on August 18, 2022