TAMPA, Florida. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that it is dropping some of its most restrictive COVID-19 safety recommendations.
The CDC said Americans no longer need to socially distance or self-quarantine after coming into close contact with someone infected with COVID. An estimated 95% of Americans over the age of 16 have acquired some level of immunity, either by being vaccinated or by being infected, agency officials said.
“We have a huge proportion of the population that has either been vaccinated or naturally infected or both,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson of the University of South Florida Health. “We’ve gone from a pandemic stage to a pretty much endemic stage where this thing is pretty constant in our society.”
Viruses become endemic when they have reached a point where they no longer cause significant disruptions in our daily lives. Wolfson said the CDC likely also looked at the current death rate, which is much lower than it was at the height of the pandemic.
“I think the CDC is being very pragmatic and also very cautious, looking at the data. Most of us in public health are saying we’re heading to the next stage,” Wolfson said. “I think we should be proud of where we’ve come from and not say, ‘how come it took so long?’ Two and a half years is a long time, but back in the 1920s when we had the Spanish flu, tens of millions of people died from this disease and it was decades before we really figured out how manage it. we’re really ahead of the curve.”
The CDC is not removing all of its COVID safety guidelines. He still recommends people wear masks indoors in areas with high community spread, which includes all of Tampa Bay and most of Florida.
He also encourages people with COVID symptoms to get tested and urges people who test positive to stay home for at least five days, while wearing a mask around others for 10 days.