One of the only constants since the spring of 2020 has been change. With the recent spike in omicron variant COVID-19 infections across the U.S., we are once again preparing to change our habits. This time, though, there is some good news. While omicron is very infectious, and has the ability to bypass our currently available vaccines, so far it has resulted in far fewer hospitalizations and less-severe outcomes than any previous variant. Initial studies suggest it replicates faster, which is why it’s spreading so quickly, but leaves lower viral loads in the upper and lower respiratory tract. As a result, the CDC now believes the virus is most infectious 1-2 days before and 2-3 days after symptoms appear.
Because of this new information, the CDC released new guidelines for self-isolation and quarantine, which include shorter periods before returning to life as usual, longer testing windows, and updated mask guidance.
Anyone who tests positive is now advised to self-isolate at home for five days. (This is half the length of the previous 10-day recommendation.) At the end of this five-day period — provided there is no fever and other symptoms are improving — the patient can come out of self-isolation as long as they wear a mask in public for an additional five days.
For those who are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19, recommendations are based on vaccination status:
- Those who have completed both their primary vaccinations and booster shots — or received their primary vaccinations and are not yet eligible for a booster — are not required to quarantine. They should, however, wear a mask in public settings for ten days following exposure. Getting tested on day five, or sooner if symptoms arise, is also recommended.
- A five-day quarantine is recommended for those who are unvaccinated or haven’t received a booster yet, although they are eligible, followed by five additional days of mask-wearing. Getting tested on day five, or sooner if symptoms arise, is also recommended.
There have been several positive developments in our understanding of COVID-19 recently. Among them, the recognition that COVID-19, although becoming endemic, is now a treatable condition. Our continued research has resulted in not only social measures and vaccines to avoid its incidence, but also pharmaceutical solutions that can reduce its severity and improve patient outcomes. In order to continue in this direction and make the sacrifices of the last two years worth it, it’s extremely important that these pharmaceutical interventions are used properly. This is one of the arenas in which testing can help.
Previously, test results could only be used to identify cases and slow the spread of the virus. But now, the results can give healthcare providers important information that directly influences treatment, by identifying people who will benefit from pharmaceutical intervention. ARCpoint Labs offers a full menu of efficient, accurate testing solutions that can help your healthcare provider make more informed decisions about your care. To learn more about how ARCpoint Labs can help protect you and your loved ones, click here to find the location nearest you.
 Nemet, I., Kliker, L., Lustig, Y., Zuckerman, N., Erster, O., Cohen, C., Kreiss, Y., Alroy-Preis, S., Regev-Yochay, G., Mendelson, E., & Mandelboim, M. (2021). Third BNT162B2 vaccination neutralization of SARS-COV-2 omicron infection. New England Journal of Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmc2119358
 Maslo C, Friedland R, Toubkin M, Laubscher A, Akaloo T, Kama B. Characteristics and Outcomes of Hospitalized Patients in South Africa During the COVID-19 Omicron Wave Compared With Previous Waves. JAMA. Published online December 30, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.24868
 Chen, J., Wang, R., Gilby, N. B., & Wei, G. W. (2021). Omicron (B.1.1.529): Infectivity, vaccine breakthrough, and antibody resistance. ArXiv, arXiv:2112.01318v1.
 Michael Diamond, Peter Halfmann, Tadashi Maemura et al. The SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.529 Omicron virus causes attenuated infection and disease in mice and hamsters, 29 December 2021, PREPRINT (Version 1) available at Research Square [https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-1211792/v1]
 CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population (December 2021). Media Statement. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html