On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened the recommended isolation period for people with COVID from 10 days to 5, if asymptomatic

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 need only isolate for five days if asymptomatic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Monday.

"Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others," the organization wrote in a release.

The change in isolation period comes after evidence suggests that virus transmission occurs primarily in the one to two days before the onset of symptoms, as well as the two to three days after symptoms begin.

The CDC also shortened its recommended quarantine period for anyone who is exposed to COVID-19.

Those who are exposed to someone with the virus but who are unvaccinated, as well as those who are more than six months out from their second mRNA vaccine dose or more than two months out from their Johnson & Johnson vaccine, should quarantine for five days and wear a mask around others for five additional days.

Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine, but are encouraged to wear a mask around others for 10 days following the exposure, the CDC said.

Anyone who is exposed to COVID-19 should also be tested for the virus five days after the exposure.

teen vaccine
A person getting vaccinated
| Credit: Getty

The CDC's latest recommendation comes one day after Dr. Anthony Fauci warned of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases following the holidays.

The nation's leading infectious disease expert, 81, said Sunday on ABC's This Week that the United States averaged around 150,000 cases of the virus over the last seven days, and that "it likely will go much higher" in the coming weeks as the omicron variant continues spreading rapidly. 

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"Well, there's one thing that's for sure that we all agree upon, that it is extraordinarily contagious," Fauci told This Week co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

He added, "We're particularly worried about those who are in that unvaccinated class, that, you know, tens and tens of millions of Americans who are eligible for vaccination who have not been vaccinated. Those are the most vulnerable ones when you have a virus that is extraordinarily effective in getting to people and infecting them the way omicron is."

Last week, the CDC said that 73.2 percent of coronavirus cases reported between Dec. 12 to 18 were omicron. Another 26.6 percent of cases were the delta variant.

This represents a significant increase in the spread of omicron across the country. The week prior, omicron accounted for just 12 percent of cases in the U.S., the CDC reported.

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