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Coronavirus restrictions lifted in the USA: what can Americans do now

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has softened its COVID-19 guidance by lifting the requirement to self-isolate if Americans come into close contact with an infected person. Read more about the innovations told the publication APNews.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans no longer need to stay at least 6 feet (1,8 m) away from other citizens.

The change, more than 2,5 years after the start of the pandemic, comes from the recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans aged 16 and over have acquired some level of immunity, either through vaccination or infection.

“The current pandemic conditions are very different from those of the last two years,” said Greta Massetti of the CDC.

Many regions across the country have long abandoned social distancing and other once-common precautions, but some of the changes may be especially important for schools that are resuming classes this month in many parts of the country.

Perhaps the biggest education-related change is the repeal of the recommendation for schools to conduct routine daily testing, though the practice could be reinstated in certain situations during a surge in infections.

The CDC, among other things, rescinded a “test to stay” recommendation that said students exposed to COVID-19 could be tested regularly to continue attending school instead of being quarantined at home. Since there are no more quarantine recommendations, the need for testing has also disappeared.

Masks are still recommended only in areas where community transmission of the virus is thought to be high, or if the person is thought to be at high risk of severe illness.

On the subject: If you had COVID-19, you got immunity from coronavirus for life: new study

School districts across the U.S. have scaled back their COVID-19 precautions in recent weeks even before safety guidance was out. Some have vowed to return to pre-pandemic schooling.

The American Federation of Teachers, one of the largest teacher unions in the country, said it welcomed the decision.

“Every educator and every parent starts the new school year with great hope, and this year even more so,” said organization president Randy Weingarten. “After two years of uncertainty and disruption, we need as normal a year as possible so we can focus on what kids need.”

The new guidelines prioritize keeping children in school as much as possible, said Joseph Allen, director of the Harvard University Health Program. Previous lockdown policies have kept millions of students out of school, he said, even though the virus poses a relatively low risk to young people.

“Entire classes of children had to skip school,” he said. “School closures and learning disruptions have been devastating.”

Others say the CDC is going too far in relaxing its rules.

Ann Sosin, a public health researcher at Dartmouth College, says allowing students to return to school five days after being infected without evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result will lead to outbreaks and temporary school closures if teachers fall ill in large numbers.

“We all want a stable school year, but wishful thinking is not a strategy to achieve that,” she said. “If we want to return to normal life in our schools, then we must invest in the conditions for this, and not just leave everything at random.”

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This summer, the average number of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths has remained relatively stable, at around 100 cases per day and between 000 and 300 deaths.

The CDC has previously said that people who come into close contact with a person who tests positive should stay at home for at least five days. The agency now says quarantine at home is not necessary, but is urging these people to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested in five.

The agency continues to say that people who test positive must isolate themselves from others for at least five days - regardless of whether they have been vaccinated. CDC officials say people can come out of isolation if they don't have a fever for 24 hours without the use of medication, as well as other symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated its guidance on how many times people exposed to COVID-19 should be tested.

Previously, the FDA recommended two rapid antigen tests within two or three days to rule out infection. The agency now recommends three tests.

FDA officials said the change was based on new research that suggests the old protocol could miss too many infections and lead people to spread the coronavirus infection, especially if they don't develop symptoms.

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