CDC Guidelines Revised: It’s just got complicated

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Yes, things do keep changing. That’s because scientists constantly learn. The latest guideline revision seem more complicated than the last.

 Yes, we’re still in a Pandemic

That doesn’t mean we can’t adapt how we respond.

Remember why we went into lockdown in the first place? We did that because we had no effective treatment and no vaccine for Covid-19. We hoped to “flatten the curve” so hospitals were not overwhelmed by severely ill people.

“Flattening the curve” was never intended to prevent the number of infections. Instead, it would hopefully limit the number of deaths.  If you look at the flattened curve, you can see that the number of infections under the curve is about the same, just drawn out over more time.

 We now have vaccines and anti-viral treatments for Covid-19. So, the logical extension of that is no more lockdowns.

Still, my county is still considered in a “high” transmission area, and last week we had two more deaths.

Geesh! Some things are kinda difficult to understand.

I did it again. I yelled at the TV and crumpled the newspaper. That’s not quite right! It’s only part of the story.

I tried sketching out a decision tree like I did the last time the guidelines got updated. (click here,) but there were way too many “if/then” statements to consider and not enough yes/no questions to ask. So, I took a break, watched some TV, picked CoCo’s bike up from the bike shop, went to Home Depot and asked an expert, and bought a bunch of birthday cards at Dollar Tree.

With that cerebral rest, it hit me. I can reduce the guidelines to a series of if/then statements.

Note: these new guidelines no longer include “Quarantine.” Just in case you forgot when we quarantined and how, here’s the definition:

Quarantine: A strategy used to prevent transmission of COVID-19 by keeping people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 apart from others. You quarantine when you might have been exposed to the virus and may or may not have been infected.

CDC Definition at

Here’s what you should do now, if you are exposed to someone with Covid-19

  • If you are exposed and you are vaccinated and you have no symptoms, then no action is required.
  • If you’re exposed and you are vaccinated and have symptoms, then
    • isolate until you can test
    • isolate if you test positive.
  • If you and exposed and you are not vaccinated, then
    • wear a high-quality mask for 5 full days and test on Day 6
      • if the test is negative, then wear a high-quality mask for 5 additional days
      • if symptoms develop anytime during the 10 days, then
        • isolate until you can test
        • isolate if you test positive
    • get vaccinated.

If you test positive or have symptoms and can’t access testing, isolate for a minimum of 5 full days, then

  • If you have no symptoms on Day 6 (after 5 full days), then
    • you may end isolation, and
    • continue to wear a high-quality face mask for an additional 5 days.
  • If you have a moderate illness and you’ve isolated for ten full days, then you may end isolation, if
    • you are fever free for 24 hours, without fever-reducing medication and
    • your symptoms are improving, and
    • you continue to wear a high-quality face mask for an additional five days.
  • If you have severe illness, then
    • you must isolate for 10 days, and
    • consult your doctor before ending isolation.
  • if your COVID-19 symptoms recur or worsen, restart your isolation at day 0.

Note: The day you get exposed is “Day 0,” “Day 1” is 24 hours later. For example, Day 6 is 5 full days after exposure.

If you experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing, you have moderate illness .

If you were hospitalized due to COVID-19, or you have a weakened immune system, you have severe illness ,

A couple of CDC definitions:

Exposure: Contact with someone has COVID-19. That means less that 6 feet away from an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hours period. (My note: You are not exposed if you came in close contact with someone who came in contact with someone with COVID-19.)

Isolate: A strategy used to separate people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from those without COVID-19. People who are in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others.

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. You should notify anyone you exposed.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sorry throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

You don’t need to have ALL of them, just one. That’s a lot of symptoms. But look at it this way:

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Do you want to get someone sick, even if it’s not Covid-19?

Err on the side of caution. Please.

Who do I think I am?

I’m not a physician or a health care provider. I’m not an infectious disease expert nor do I have experience in Community Health. I trust my health care providers to diagnose and treat me. However, I don’t expect my health care provider to be an expert on disease control and prevention. I trust the Community Health experts to write the disease control guidelines.

My expertise (over 30 years) is in writing procedures and interpreting regulatory guidelines. I’m a former microbiologist, but my expertise is in considering microbes, their environment and what they need to be healthy and multiply. All living things have some things in common. On the other hand, viruses are not considered living.

Feel free to go to to check out my ability to interpret the guideline.

My understanding of COVID-19 has evolved as I gain information. I’ve been writing about COVID-19 since February 2020. You can track how my viewpoint mutated by entering keywords in the search bar. Covid, Sars, or Dr. Who will get you most everything. (Yes, I’m a bonafide nerd and maybe a geek, too.)

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