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CDC Changes COVID Quarantine Guidelines After Request from Delta CEO



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced updated guidelines for people who test positive for COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms, shortening the recommended isolation period from 10 days to five.

The move comes days after Reuters reported that the CEO of Delta Airlines sent a letter to the CDC asking them to change their recommended quarantine period for anyone who tests positive for a breakthrough COVID-19 infection to five days from 10.

“With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the 10-day isolation for those who are fully vaccinated may significantly impact our workforce and operations,” Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian wrote on December 21. “Similar to healthcare, police, fire, and public transportation workforces, the Omicron surge may exacerbate shortages and create significant disruptions.”

Reuters reported that the CDC declined to comment on the story.

On December 27, the CDC put out a press statement announcing the change, with their new guidelines almost exactly matching what the Delta CEO had requested.

“Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others,” the statement read. “The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”


CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the “updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”

However, many people were dubious of the CDC’s motivations based on the timing of the change.

“So we find out that Delta CEO Ed [Bastian] asked the CDC to reduce the recommended quarantine time from 10 days to 5 for vaccinated people because of workforce impact. This change has nothing to do with the virus or your health & everything to do with the profits of corporations,” former Texas congressional candidate Russell Foster (D) wrote on Twitter.

Flight attendants are pushing back against the new guidance as well.

“The CDC gave a medical explanation about why the agency has decided to reduce the quarantine requirements from 10 to five days, but the fact that it aligns with the number of days pushed by corporate America is less than reassuring,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International.

“We said we wanted to hear from medical professionals on the best guidance for quarantine, not from corporate America advocating for a shortened period due to staffing shortages,” Nelson said.