CDC updates COVID recommendations

Published 6:27 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control has updated its recommendations for dealing with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The CDC recommended shorter quarantine periods for asymptomatic and mildly ill people, but also included a mandate for continual masking for an additional five days. The Alabama Department of Public Health advised K-12 students, faculty and staff to follow the updated guidance from the CDC.

“As pediatricians, we understand the extreme stress this pandemic is placing on families,” District Medical Officer Dr. Wes Stubblefield said. “Our best medical advice is for parents to vaccinate their age-eligible children in order to protect their children’s health and keep kids in school.”

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On Jan. 4, the CDC revised its recommendations on the coronavirus Omicron variant to include “quarantine periods of five days to focus on the period when a person is most infectious, followed by continued masking for an additional 5 days.”

Symptoms for COVID-19 include (the list does not include all possible symptoms):

• Fever or chills

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Fatigue

• Muscle or body aches

• Headache

• New loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

• Congestion or runny nose

• Nausea or vomiting

• Diarrhea

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, all of the state’s 67 counties are currently considered at high risk for infection.

In 2022, there have already been 16,347 COVID-19 cases reported; compared to 387,466 cases in 2020 and 528,437 cases in 2021.

Early in the New year, one death has already been attributed to COVID-19. That brings the total number of deaths in the state from COVID to 16,503 with 7,187 in 2020 and 9,315 in 2021.

According to the CDC early data on the Omicron variant suggests, “Hospitalization and death rates are much lower for vaccinated people for all SARS-CoV-2 variants; preliminary data from South Africa suggest that hospitalization and death rates are lower for people infected with Omicron compared with other variants.  Early estimates of lower vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection due to Omicron after the Pfizer-BioNTech primary series suggest that booster doses are important to improve protection from hospitalization and death due to infection with the Omicron variant.”

Currently, the positivity rate for the state is at 41 percent. In the last seven days, 37,049 out of 90,389 COVID tests have been positive.

During the current Omicron outbreak, the CDC is recommending continual use of masks and layered prevention strategies, such as receiving all recommended vaccination and booster doses, physical distancing, screening testing, and improved ventilation, are key to preventing COVID-19 and decreasing transmission.