scorecardThe age of social distancing is over, according to the CDC
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The age of social distancing is over, according to the CDC

Rebecca Cohen   

The age of social distancing is over, according to the CDC
LifeScience2 min read
  • The CDC is no longer recommending social distancing as a way to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Instead, it is shifting toward guidelines that help to prevent severe illness, like getting vaccinated and boosted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer recommending you stay more than six feet away from other people to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In new recommendations released by the CDC Thursday, the agency said it's shifting away from guidelines like strict quarantines and social distancing and toward methods that help to prevent severe illness from the COVID-19 virus.

"Physical distance is just one component of how to protect yourself and others," the agency said.

"We're in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19," added CDC Senior Scientist Greta Massetti.

"We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives."

The CDC's latest COVID-19 guidance

The crux of the updated guidelines remains the same: Get vaccinated against COVID-19 and keep up to date with booster shots to combat ever-changing mutations of the virus.

But the CDC is ushering out the era of social distancing, once a staple in the agency's COVID-19 guidance.

Still, the CDC said you should "consider the risk in a particular setting, including local COVID-19 Community Levels and the important role of ventilation, when assessing the need to maintain physical distance."

For vaccinated people, the CDC no longer recommends a quarantine period if you are exposed to someone with the virus. Instead, it says to wear a "high-quality mask" for 10 days and to take a test on day five.

Those with COVID-19 should continue to isolate themselves from others who are healthy for at least five days. After leaving isolation, people who are recovering from COVID-19 should avoid being around high-risk patients until at least day 11 and should wear a mask around others until day 10.

If you've had severe illness due to COVID-19, you should consider isolating for 10 days, or talking to a doctor about when it's smart to exit your isolation, the CDC said.

And if you end isolation and your symptoms return, you should restart isolation at day zero.