By Rasika Gasti
Texas State University recommends students, faculty and staff to follow the new CDC guidelines which shortens isolation/quarantine period from 10 days to five days. However, some students do not feel confident about adapting to it.
Following the statement by CDC on Dec. 27, 2021, about shortened recommended quarantine and isolation period, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Student Health Center at Texas State University Dr. Emilio Carranco informed students, faculty and staff about the new guidelines as a part of Spring Semester Mitigation Strategy. The updated guidelines recommend general population to quarantine for five days upon start of symptoms or a positive test, followed by wearing masks for another five days.
“People with COVID-19 should isolate for five days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter,” the CDC wrote in a statement.
According to Dr. Carranco, the CDC decided to shorten the isolation/quarantine period based on the assessment that five days would cover the period of highest infectiousness for a COVID-19 positive person.
“As we have continued to study COVID-19 and in particular, Omicron, what we have discovered is that people are contagious probably for about seven day and they are highly infectious for about four days,” Dr. Carranco said. “During that period of high infectiousness is when you are most likely to transmit an infection to someone else. So, beyond that period of high infectiousness, you may still be a little bit contagious, but the likelihood that you would transmit to someone else is significantly lower.”
Moreover, considering the ongoing labor shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, these new guidelines are attempting to bring a balance between preventing the spread of infection and restoring nation’s shrinking workforce.
“I think the CDC was also pretty honest about the fact that given the disruption that was occurring in the country with people not being able to go to work, with kids not being able to go to school, that, it needed to try to balance the science with the needs of society,” Dr. Carranco said.
Trusting the assessments of scientist and clinical experts at CDC, Texas State University decided to follow the new CDC guidelines. Texas State plans to adapt with these new guidelines by informing all the students, faculty and staff with proper information on new quarantining recommendations through various channels such as the Roadmap, mass emails and Bobcat Trace.
“There are lots of places where the information has already been disseminated to the entire community. Basically, saying we’re going to follow CDC guidance,” Dr. Carranco said. “Now, the university has other tools that it’s using to try to ensure that success. Bobcat trace allows us to be able to provide very specific information to people who are either infected, or need to be quarantine because of a close contact”
Students living on-campus are expected to go home to isolate for the required five-day period upon getting infected or coming in close contact with a positive case. However, Texas Sate will offer isolation/quarantine spaces on-campus if a student is unable to go home.
“In some situations, for example, with international students or out of state students or even students that have someone at home, that has a severe immune-compromised system, the Department of Housing and Residential Life prepared to offer isolation and quarantine spaces on our campus,” Dr. Carranco said.
Texas State is optimistic about the impact of following these new guidelines.
“What we hope is that we’ll be able to minimize the spread of infection and be able to continue to provide students with a full educational experience and be able to allow other people to work and to go to school,” Dr. Carranco said.
In contrast, some students feel that CDC is irresponsible for shortening quarantine period considering that many people still do not take necessary actions like masking, vaccination and social distancing.
“If the school is taking the precautions, that they think are proper for people who are testing positive, then good for them, but I also think it’s a lot of irresponsibility on the CDC for lowering the quarantine days because people just aren’t responsible,” said Valeria Arriaga, a biology major at Texas State University. “I know they’ve done testing and they’ve come out with their statement about it. I just don’t think in the world we live in right now it’s very smart. I just feel like they’re not doing enough.”
Even though CDC has updated its guidelines, Valeria feels confident in following the older guidelines, which is to quarantine for 10 days.
“I want to listen to the five days. I would rather just stick to the longer, the original, the 10 days, and then getting tested again, to make sure that I’m completely rid of the virus. I just think that’s the smartest thing to do,” Arriaga said.
For those who are unvaccinated and not yet boosted, CDC also recommends them to quarantine for five days and strictly wear mask for another five days. Some people are especially unhappy about relaxing the quarantine guidelines for those who are unvaccinated.
“If you are vaccinated and boosted, then I can be more on board with the five-day quarantine, and then the following five days mask, but if you’re not vaccinated, I still think it should be 10 days with 10 days of masking,” said Sydney Rodriguez, a first-year graduate student at Texas State University. “Because with full vaccination and boosters we have some immunity but it’s not a hundred percent, and we can still transmit. If you’re unvaccinated, you have no immunities, so you can be sick and not show symptoms. You can transmit it more easily.”
Regardless of these new changes, Texas State continues to highly encourage everyone to get vaccinated and wear a mask as the best mitigation strategy.
“We want you to have curricular activities. The only way to do that is if everybody helps,” Dr. Carranco said. “If everybody does their part to keep this campus safe and the best way to do that is to get vaccinated that protects you. It actually helps to protect others as well. And to wear a high-quality mask. And so even though you are vaccinated you could get infected, but you’re very well protected against being hospitalized or having the severe illness.”
For more information on the new CDC guidelines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html
Featured Image by KTSW Multimedia
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