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CDC to reconsider latest guidance amid backlash, rise in cases

The highly transmissible COVID-19 omicron variant has thrown many pandemic-related plans for a loop as Americans canceled holiday plans or were left stuck in a travel nightmare caused by flight crews who could not work because they became sick.

A decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week to cut isolation time in half, from 10 days to five days for asymptomatic COVID-19, was met with backlash after officials said it was due in part to allow people to return to work faster. It came one week after some companies, including Delta Air Lines, wrote to the CDC requesting such a change.

Now, Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, says the testing part of that guidance may change to now require one as officials struggle with rising cases that at times are breaking pandemic records. 

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Fauci said the CDC was looking into amending its isolation guidelines nearly one week after it updated its latest guidance, which did not require a negative test before the five days were up.

“There has been some concern about why we don’t ask people at that five-day period to get tested. That is something that is now under consideration,” Fauci said. “The CDC is very well aware that there has been some pushback about that. Looking at it again, there may be an option in that, that testing could be a part of that, and I think we’re going to be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC.” 

Last week, Jerome Adams, the former surgeon general during the Trump administration, criticized the abbreviated time and advised people to still get a COVID-19 test before leaving isolation.

“Regardless of what CDC says, you really should try to obtain an antigen test,” Adams tweeted. “There’s not a scientist or doctor I’ve met yet who wouldn’t do this for themselves/ their family.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Sunday praised the federal government’s recent handling the COVID-19 pandemic, but said its messaging has been “a little bit inconsistent.”

“It’s a recognition that we have to be able to manage our way through this virus. We have to get people to work the supply shortages, the staff shortages — [those] really do a great deal of harm as well,” Hutchinson said while appearing on “Fox News Sunday.”

Amid the latest surge in cases, officials across the country have also begun weighing the possibility of closing down schools and returning to remote learning. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Sunday said the government was committed to maintaining in-person learning.

“We’ve been very clear, our expectation is for schools to be open full time for students for in-person learning. We remember the impact of school closures on students last year, and our science is better, we have better tools,” Cardona said on “Fox News Sunday.”

President Biden has also stayed away from suggesting any pandemic-related lockdowns or stay at home orders, a politically unpopular option that could help curb the spread of the latest variant.

Cardona expressed his support for continued vaccinations, but said he would leave vaccination decisions to the state and local levels.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, said on Sunday that he was in favor of “preemptive” school closures, but said there may also be situations in the future where “reactive” school closures will happen due to the surge in cases.

Asked by “Face the Nation,” host Margaret Brennan about reports that antigen tests aren’t as efficient at detecting the omicron variant, Gottlieb said that current data suggests the tests can detect the strain at a “reasonably confident” rate.

Last month, the Biden administration introduced a “test to stay” approach for schools, allowing students who have been exposed to the coronavirus to stay in school if they test negative for the virus twice in one week.

Fauci also on Sunday said Americans “don’t want to get complacent” despite reports that the omicron variant may lead to less-severe illness than previous COVID-19 strains.

Asked by host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” about early evidence that the omicron variant leads to less-serious infections and illness, Fauci said that while there is “accumulating evidence,” it is “still early.”

Tags Anthony Fauci Anthony Fauci Asa Hutchinson Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 George Stephanopoulos Jerome Adams Joe Biden Miguel Cardona Quarantine SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant

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