The agency also dropped its advice that unvaccinated people or those unaware of their vaccines should be quarantined after exposure and said schools should follow the same approach for students.
Exposed students, as well as unvaccinated people who come into contact with someone with Covid-19, are required to take a test after five days and wear a mask for 10 days. The CDC now recommends quarantine only for anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, suggesting they stay at home for at least five days.
The agency’s general guidelines for masking for schools remain unchanged, recommending a mask in moderate community risk areas for only immunocompromised or high-risk individuals or those with high-risk close contacts, and recommending that everyone ages 2 and older should wear one indoors in high community risk areas.
“We know Covid-19 is here to stay,” Greta Massetti, author of the CDC report outlining the new guidelines, said at a briefing on Thursday. “Currently, high levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection and the many tools we have available to protect people from serious illness and death have put us in another space.”
The new guideline also said efforts to screen for the virus in most community settings should include testing of both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
About 95 percent of the U.S. population now has antibodies from a previous infection or vaccination, Massetti said, which protects against serious illness: “So it really makes the most sense at this point not to differentiate with our guidance or our recommendations on based on vaccination status.”