Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday that behavioral toleration of voluntary isolation played a role in the latest quarantine guidelines, according to Fox News.
The statement came as the CDC announced on Monday that it was shortening the recommended quarantine period for the asymptomatic with exposure to COVID-19 from 10 days to just five. Some medical experts and political leaders have questioned the wisdom of the decision, coming as it does in the midst of a record surge in infections spurred by the rapid spread of the new omicron variant.
Walensky, appearing on CNN to speak about the guideline change, asserted that ''people need to get back to work'' and that the behavioral science factor was an important consideration.
''From what you're saying, it sounds like this decision had just as much to do with business as it did with the science,'' guest host Kaitlan Collins pushed back.
''It really had a lot to do with what we thought people would be able to tolerate,'' Walensky responded, citing studies that showed most Americans were not voluntarily isolating.
''And so, we really want to make sure that we had guidance in this moment — where we were going to have a lot of disease — that could be adhered to, that people were willing to adhere to, and that spoke specifically to when people were maximally infectious.''
The CDC director's remarks regarding the agency's shift come amid a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant, according to Fox News.
Walensky told CNN that the omicron variant is highly transmissible, but many cases are mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic, especially among vaccinated people.
A major concern voiced by scientists is that the isolation policy fails to distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, who recover from the virus at different rates. It also does not require testing to confirm that a person is no longer infectious before they go back to work or socialize.
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