CDC Updates Guidance on Respiratory Viruses Like COVID, Flu, and RSV

March 5, 2024
Adopting a universal approach to recommendation, CDC says people can come out of isolation from respiratory illness if symptoms have been improving for 24 hours

CDC has released updated recommendations regarding protection from respiratory viruses, aiming to bring a “unified approach” to addressing COVID-19, flu, and RSV.

As part of this new guidance, CDC is emphasizing a number of core prevention strategies that are meant to apply to all respiratory viruses. Among those strategies are “staying up to date with vaccination,” “practicing good hygiene,” and “taking steps for cleaner air.”

CDC cites “far fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19” and the fact that they have “more tools than ever to combat flu, COVID, and RSV” as reasons why they are making these changes and recommendations now.

Anyone sick with a respiratory virus should “stay home and away from others,” returning to normal activities when “for at least 24 hours symptoms are improving overall, and if a fever was present, it has been gone without use of a fever-reducing medication.” Once those normal activities are resumed, those people are encouraged to “take additional prevention strategies for the next 5 days to curb disease spread, such as taking more steps for cleaner air, enhancing hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses.”

CDC stresses in their release that COVID “remains a threat” but is “far less likely to cause severe illness because of widespread immunity and improved tools to prevent and treat the disease.” Along with these claims of widespread immunity, they cite the fact that “states and countries that have already adjusted recommended isolation times have not seen increased hospitalizations or deaths related to COVID-19.”

The unified approach to combating these viruses is meant to “make recommendations easier to follow and thus more likely to be adopted.” Plus, it does “not rely on individuals to test for illness, a practice that data indicates is uneven.”

Specific sections are also included in the new guidance for people at higher risk of severe illness, including people who are “immunocompromised, people with disabilities, people who are or were recently pregnant, young children, and older adults.” These changes are also strictly intended for “community settings. There are no changes to respiratory virus guidance for healthcare settings.”

CDC’s website has the release.

About the Author

Matt MacKenzie | Associate Editor

Matt is Associate Editor for Healthcare Purchasing News.