CDC COVID protocol changes

August 23, 2022


The CDC updates guidance on COVID-19 protocols that will impact you and your family.
Here's a quick cheat sheet.
“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.”

Greta Massetti, PhD, MPH, in the CDC’s release on August 11, in which the CDC says it “streamlines COVID-19 guidance.” The timing of this release matters — coming before most U.S. school districts began their new year, and at a time when the CDC says we have “significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic.”


  • Scenario: You test positive for COVID-19.
  • Guidance: For *most,* guidance is to isolate for at least 5 days; prior was 5-10 for everyone regardless of symptoms.
  • If symptoms haven’t improved after day 5, the quarantine should continue through day 10.
  • If not symptomatic OR symptoms have improved (w/no fever), isolation can end after 5 days, w/the recommendation to mask around others for an additional 5 days.
  • P.S. Immune compromised or serious case? Guidance may differ.


  • Scenario: You spend time with a friend who later tests positive for COVID-19.
  • New: No quarantine recommended. The CDC suggests wearing a “high quality mask” for 10 days and testing on day 5.
  • Previously: Previously, unvaccinated people exposed to a COVID-positive case were recommended to isolate for 5 days, while vaccinated people were not. The new guidance is the same regardless of vaccination status.
  • Test To Stay guidance (i.e. testing required to attend school after exposure) ended.

Social Distancing

Previously: 3-6 feet in general (public settings, schools, offices) and cohorts for schools (limiting student interaction with one another).

New guidance: Social distancing is dependent on the setting and community levels of infection as well as “the important role of ventilation, when assessing the need to maintain physical distance.”

Unchanged: Masking broadly recommended.

The CDC continues to emphasize the importance of vaccinations. Roughly 80% of the U.S. population has received a vaccine.

What about requiring testing of friends, family, community members before an event — either as a courtesy or for permission to enter? Even when they aren’t sick? “Recommending screening testing of asymptomatic people without known exposures will no longer be recommended in most community settings.”

CDC streamlines COVID-19 guidance to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risks (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States (CDC)

COVID Data Tracker (CDC)

CDC loosens coronavirus guidance, signaling strategic shift (The Washington Post)

by Jenna Lee,