San Antonio hospital leader weighs in on new CDC recommendations for shorter COVID-19 isolation time

Based on the rate of transmission of COVID-19 within the first five days of infection, Dr. Bryan Alsip, University Health’s chief medical officer, said he is “pretty comfortable” with the new recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Based on the data the CDC is seeing, Alsip said they are “good recommendations,” such as cutting the COVID-19 isolation time in half to five days for anyone who is asymptomatic.

Since it’s possible for someone to still be contagious beyond those five days, Alsip said the CDC recommends mask-wearing for another 10 days.

Alsip said he’s also eager to see the viral cultures in the laboratory.

“That would be more reassuring because we would know exactly whether something can replicate and transmit after five days or not,” Alsip said.

He said he believes it would give people “a greater sense of comfort.”

According to the CDC, anyone testing positive should isolate for five days regardless of vaccination status. If there are no symptoms or if symptoms are gone, the CDC says there’s no longer a need to isolate, but you should wear a mask if you’re around others for at least five days. However, stay home if you have a fever.

The recommendations are the same for those who are not boosted or unvaccinated but test positive. Stay home for five days, then wear a mask for at least another five days. Those who cannot quarantine can wear a mask for 10 days and get tested on day five. If symptoms develop, stay home.

People who’ve been vaccinated and boosted within the past two to six months can wear a mask for 10 days, then get tested on day five. But again, if symptoms develop, stay home.

Alsip said he understands some may have difficulty understanding the need for the latest recommendations.

“I think it can be very confusing to the layperson as well as to those who work in health care,” Alsip said.

But like the pandemic itself, Alsip said the data changes, prompting different recommendations.

Resources from World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, City of San Antonio