Updated COVID-19 guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday signaled that the nation’s top public health agency is continuing to shift away from community-level efforts to focus on steps individuals can take to prevent severe illness.

“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,” Dr. Greta Massetti, an epidemiologist with the CDC who co-authored the new guidance, said in a release.

“This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our lives,” Massetti said.

The new guidance drops a quarantine requirement for unvaccinated individuals or those who are not up to date with their vaccinations and who are exposed to the virus to align with the guidance for vaccinated individuals.

Now, regardless of vaccination status, the CDC recommends that people who have been exposed to COVID should wear a “high-quality” mask for 10 days and get tested on the fifth day.

The CDC continues to recommend that people who test positive for COVID isolate for at least five days and wear a mask for at least 10 days after the individual tested positive or began experiencing symptoms, whichever came first.


The CDC also dropped its previous recommendation that in most community settings, such as schools, there is routine testing for individuals who are asymptomatic and have no known exposures.

“The Maine CDC has long encouraged Maine people, municipalities, schools, businesses and other entities to take a holistic approach to deciding what precautions are appropriate for their setting or themselves based on their risk factors,” Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Jackie Farwell said in a statement to the Sun Journal.

“The updated U.S. CDC guidance, which is targeted to the general public, aligns with the approach long supported by the state,” she said. “The guidance also recognizes the continued importance of vaccination against COVID-19 as a protection against severe illness and death, especially in higher-risk settings and sectors, such as health care.”

Farwell added that the federal recommendations provide “pragmatic steps the general public can take to protect their health that Maine has long supported.”

In addition to the use of therapeutics, such as antiviral drug Paxlovid, for individuals who have tested positive, and the use of the pre-exposure prophylactic drug Evusheld for immunocompromised individuals, the CDC’s recommendations continue to place heavy emphasis on the role of vaccinations in preventing severe illness and death.

Key to this point, the summary report said, is that for the best protection, individuals need to be up-to-date on their COVID vaccines. That means that in addition to the primary one- or two-dose series, individuals should get their additional or booster shots as soon as they are eligible.


“Continuing to increase vaccination coverage and ensuring that persons are up to date with vaccination are essential to preventing severe outcomes,” the summary report said.

“Overall booster dose coverage in the United States remains low, which is concerning given the meaningful reductions in risk for severe illness and death that booster doses provide and the importance of booster doses to counter waning of vaccine-induced immunity,” the report said. This is especially important for individuals 65 years and older, the report notes.

According to CDC data, unvaccinated people 50 years or older are at four times the risk of dying from COVID compared to people who have received their primary series and at least two boosters.

People 50 years and older who have received their primary series and just one booster were at four times the risk of dying compared to those with at least two boosters.

The Maine CDC’s vaccination data shows the raw number of booster shots given in the state but does not give a percentage of individuals who have received an additional shot or one or two boosters.

Among residents of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties who are 60 years and older, 88.4%, 86.3% and 86.1%, respectively, have completed their primary vaccination series.

Statewide, about 94% of Mainers 60-plus years old have completed their primary vaccination series.

Additionally, the summary report encourages individuals to determine the best prevention efforts for them based on their own risk for severe illness and of those in their household and their “risk tolerance” — their comfort level for potential exposure to the virus.

The guidance also said individuals should evaluate setting-specific factors, including the setting of a specific situation or event — if it is indoors versus outdoors, or there is a large crowd versus a few people — and the CDC’s community risk levels, which is determined by the case rate per capita, hospitalizations and bed availability in a specific county.

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