CDC Newsroom

CDC today released updated recommendations on how people can protect themselves and their communities from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. The new guidance brings a unified approach to addressing the risks of a range of common respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19, influenza and RSV, which can cause significant health impacts and strain on hospitals and healthcare workers . CDC is making updates to the recommendations now because the United States is experiencing far fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19 and because we have more tools than ever to fight flu, COVID, and RSV.

“Today’s announcement reflects the progress we’ve made in protecting against serious illness from COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen. “However, we still need to use the common-sense solutions we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious respiratory viral illness, including vaccination, treatment and staying at home when we get sick”.

As part of the guidance, CDC offers active recommendations on basic prevention steps and strategies:

  • remaining on the day of vaccination to protect people from serious illness, hospitalization and death. This includes flu, COVID-19 and RSV if eligible.
  • Practice good hygiene covering your coughs and sneezes, washing or sanitizing your hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
  • Take action for cleaner airsuch as bringing in more fresh outdoor air, purifying indoor air, or gathering outdoors.

When people become ill with a respiratory virus, the updated guidance recommends they stay home and away from others. For people with both COVID-19 and the flu, treatment is available and can lessen symptoms and reduce the risk of serious illness. The recommendations suggest returning to normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, symptoms are generally improving and, if fever was present, no fever-reducing medication has been used.

Once people resume normal activities, they are encouraged to take additional prevention strategies over the next 5 days to slow the spread of the disease, such as taking more steps for cleaner air, improving hygiene, wear an appropriate mask, keep your distance from others, and/or get tested for respiratory viruses. Enhanced precautions are especially important to protect people at higher risk of serious illness, including people over 65 and people with weakened immune systems. CDC’s updated guidance reflects how circumstances around COVID-19 in particular have changed. Although it remains a threat, today it is much less likely to cause serious illness due to widespread immunity and improved tools to prevent and treat the disease. Importantly, states and countries that have already adjusted recommended isolation times have not seen increases in hospitalizations or deaths related to COVID-19.

Although not all respiratory viruses act in the same way, taking a unified approach to limiting the spread of disease makes recommendations easier to follow and therefore more likely to be adopted and it doesn’t depend on people getting tested for the disease, a practice that data shows is uneven.

“The bottom line is that when people follow these actionable recommendations to avoid getting sick and protect themselves and others if they do get sick, it will help limit the spread of respiratory viruses and that will mean fewer people getting seriously ill.”, said the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis. “This includes taking enhanced precautions that can help protect people who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill.”

The updated guidance also includes specific sections with additional considerations for people who are at higher risk of serious illness from respiratory viruses, including immunocompromised people, people with disabilities, people who are pregnant or have recently been pregnant, those small children and older adults. Respiratory viruses remain a threat to public health. CDC will continue to focus efforts on ensuring that the public has the information and tools to reduce their risk or respiratory illness by protecting themselves, their families, and their communities.

This updated guide is intended for community setup. There are no changes to respiratory virus guidelines for healthcare settings.

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