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CDC drops most COVID-19 isolation guidelines. What it means in Michigan

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Nearly four years after the first COVID case was detected in Michigan, the CDC has lifted recommendations to isolate if you’re positive — as long as you’re fever-free and feeling better. (Shutterstock)
  • COVID continues to circulate in Michigan and beyond, but it has lost its deadly punch, at least for most people
  • New guidance if you’re COVID-positive: Resume everyday activities if you’re fever-free and feeling better for at least 24 hours.
  • But mask and take other precautions for another five days.

Those who are COVID-positive no longer need to skip school or work if they are fever-free for 24 hours and feeling better, according to new federal guidelines.

Four years into the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its recommendations, aligning COVID guidelines with those of other respiratory infections, such as flu or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).


Released Friday, the new guidance is much simpler: Resume normal activities when — for at least 24 hours — your symptoms are better overall and you are fever-free without medicine.

That’s a change from previous guidance, which called for at least five days of isolation.


“Most people aren’t paying attention anyway,” said Dane Farner, 74, of Flint, echoing comments last month when news leaked last month that the guidance might change.

A liver transplant recipient, the former social worker continues to mask in public and avoids big crowds. He eats at home. And like many Michiganders, including some doctors, he long ago saw the CDC’s COVID recommendations lose their authority.

Dr. Mark Hamed said the updated recommendations are common sense.

“I agree with this guidance to be quite honest, as long as people truly follow it and employers give flexibilities to their employees who are off sick,” said Hamed, medical director for several public health departments and an emergency room doctor at McKenzie Health System in Sandusky, in Michigan's Thumb.

For some, COVID can be deadly. Just this week, Michigan’s COVID fatalities surpassed 40,000 since the March 2020.

Critics had argued the older restrictions were out of sync with everyday realities for most, including those who would lose pay if they lost days off work to stay home, even if they weren’t sick. Infected but asymptomatic Americans unknowingly work and socialize and go to school. And nearly every American had some sort of antibodies from previous infection or vaccination, according to the CDC’s own report.

California and Colorado already had dropped recommendations to isolate, as long as the infected person had no symptoms.


A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson on Friday told Bridge the department “considers CDC recommendations first when making recommendations to Michigan families” and is reviewing the updated guidance.

The new recommendations suggest those who have COVID but return to work after isolation do the following for five days:

  • Take extra care of hygiene, Cover sneezes and coughs. Wash hands often and properly.
  • Clean the air. Open doors and windows and use exhaust fans and air purifiers, if possible. Here are other ways to improve ventilation.
  • Wear masks to protect those around you.
  • Keep physical distance. Avoid crowds.
  • Test if you will be around other people indoors.
  • If the fever returns or symptoms worsen, stay home and away from others again until, for at least 24 hours, symptoms improve again and you’re fever-free.

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