VIRGINIA, USA — National health experts signal a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) loosened its guidelines.
The CDC said that about 95% of the age 16+ population in the U.S. have either gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 or have been infected with the virus.
Additionally, because of the tools available to Americans, when it comes to COVID-19 prevention and protection, "Our chances of severe illness have dropped considerably," said Newport News pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Broderick.
In an announcement Thursday, the CDC outlined the relaxation of some guidelines.
For instance, regardless of vaccination status, quarantine is no longer recommended for someone who has been exposed to COVID-19. Instead, they are asked to cover up with a high-quality face mask for 10 days and test on day five.
"If you've been exposed to COVID, we should really have you mask in all of the indoor spaces you're around other people. And then, just like we do with all other infections, if you're sick – fever, cough, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea – you should go home and get tested," said Dr. Broderick.
Moreover, the recommendation to drop quarantine after COVID-19 exposure does not include high-risk settings, such as nursing homes and jails.
And after more than two years of stressing six feet of distancing, the CDC is de-emphasizing the practice.
Some residents are feeling relief. Others are concerned.
Hampton parent Ronisha Williams said her rising kindergartener will opt to stay masked up in the classroom and follow social distancing as much as possible.
"And still encourage him about being healthy, making the right moves, washing his hands, making sure he has his own sanitizer still – the same things we did last year, making sure we implement those because COVID isn't over," said Williams.
Additionally, the CDC announced it is also no longer recommending test-to-stay programs for schools.
"The CDC said, 'Hey, that's probably not necessary anymore.' But the biggie is: make sure you're up to date," said Dr. Broderick.
Vaccines and boosters are still highly urged by medical experts, especially as the virus mutates.
13News Now asked Hampton Roads school divisions how they plan to adapt to the latest set of guidelines from the CDC.
HAMPTON CITY SCHOOLS
"Our HCS Quarantine/Isolation Guidelines for the 2022-2023 school year are posted on our website under our 2022-2023 Instruction and Health Mitigation Plan. At first glance, our current guidelines appear to align with CDC's updates today. However, we will certainly review CDC's guidelines in depth and make any necessary updates if needed prior to the start of the school year." -Spokesperson
NEWPORT NEWS PUBLIC SCHOOLS
"At present, Newport News Public Schools is following the VDH’s Revised Guidance for Schools. Our leadership team will be reviewing the updated CDC guidance in the coming days." -Spokesperson
VIRGINIA BEACH CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
A spokesperson said they will relay if anything changes after division leaders discuss the [CDC] updates with health department partners.
PORTSMOUTH PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Throughout this pandemic, we have partnered with the Portsmouth Health Department for their guidance on best practices for our schools. We will continue to do that now to finalize our protocols with this new guidance and share that with families in our back to school communications.” -Spokesperson