Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
- Dr. Anthony Fauci said the CDC reduced its coronavirus isolation guidelines to get people back to work.
- The CDC cut the isolation period for people with asymptomatic COVID-19 cases from 10 days to five.
- Fauci said this would let the economy run “not with a zero risk, but with a markedly diminished risk.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new coronavirus isolation guidelines were introduced to “get people back to jobs” because they would be able to return to work sooner.
The CDC said on Monday that people with asymptomatic COVID-19 cases could isolate for just five days, and then wear a mask when around people for the next five days. People with COVID-19 previously had to isolate for 10 days after their first positive test if they were asymptomatic.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, told CNN’s Jim Acosta that the CDC made the decision based on the number of new cases and the need to run the economy and essential services.
“With the sheer volume of new cases that we are having and that we expect to continue with Omicron, one of the things we want to be careful of is that we don’t have so many people out,” Fauci said. “If you are asymptomatic and you are infected we want to get people back to jobs.”
“I think that was a very prudent and good choice on the part of the CDC which we spent a considerable amount of time discussing, namely, getting people back in half the time that they would have been out so that they can get back to the workplace doing things that are important to keep society running smoothly,” he continued.
Fauci reiterated his comments in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Tuesday night, where he said that the new guidelines would enable the economy to run “not with a zero risk, but with a markedly diminished risk.”
“That is the basis for that decision,” he said.
Fauci said that asymptomatic people who have COVID-19 are more likely to have a high level of the virus and to spread it within their first five days after testing positive. During the next five days, the level of the virus diminishes in most cases to the extent where wearing a mask is “ample protection,” he said.
“When you balance that against the importance of trying to get people back functioning in society, plus the alternative is something that no one wants, and that’s to shut down completely, and we know that that’s not going to be palatable to the American public,” he said.
“This is one of those situations … that we often say, you don’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good,” Fauci added.