Note: This article may contain commentary reflecting the author's opinion.

On Thursday, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued updated guidance for the public health measures it recommends to combat the coronavirus, including greater emphasis on individual responsibility, in lieu of overarching public health orders.

The CDC will no longer recommend schools and other institutions screen healthy students for the coronavirus, and the quarantine rule for unvaccinated individuals has been removed.

Many of the CDC’s new recommendations revolve around protecting the vulnerable rather than restricting healthy individuals, a strategy that has been proposed by many in the past who have seen prior CDC guidance as overburdensome and giving the public health establishment an overextended influence over personal decision making.

report released by the CDC outlined the updated guidance given the high rate of vaccination amongst the American public and better treatment practices: “High levels of vaccine- and infection-induced immunity and the availability of effective treatments and prevention tools have substantially reduced the risk for medically significant COVID-19 illness (severe acute illness and post–COVID-19 conditions) and associated hospitalization and death.”

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“These circumstances now allow public health efforts to minimize the individual and societal health impacts of COVID-19 by focusing on sustainable measures to further reduce medically significant illness as well as to minimize strain on the health care system,” the report read, adding, “while reducing barriers to social, educational, and economic activity.”

One such public health policy reform regards unvaccinated individuals. The CDC previously recommended that they quarantine for five days if in close contact with an infected individual; however, that has since been removed, and both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are recommended to skip the quarantine period for close contact.

While the quarantine recommendation has been relaxed, individuals exposed to COVID-19 are still expected to wear a mask up to five days after exposure and get tested regularly. If someone were to test positive, the CDC still recommends quarantining for five days, but the federal agency did not call for a negative test to be required to exit isolation.

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“When considering whether and where to implement screening testing of asymptomatic people with no known exposure, public health officials might consider prioritizing high-risk congregate settings,” the report continued, adding that such areas included “long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities, and workplace settings that include congregate housing with limited access to medical care.”

The CDC’s updated guidance showcases a strategy shift by the Biden administration after over two years into the Coronavirus pandemic. Many have called for CDC guidance to be relaxed and for quarantine rules and testing to be relaxed, especially in K-12 schools. 

While the CDC guidance has been less relevant to Americans living in more conservative states, this guidance has been extremely pertinent for many Democrat-run states, who adhered strongly to the CDC recommendations throughout the pandemic. 

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