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The CDC is shortening isolation restrictions for those who test positive with COVID-19.

This comes as the new omicron variant continues to spread rapidly.

“W​​e’re updating the guidelines again because our science has evolved,” said Dr. Brian Dixon, Director of Public Health Informatics at the Regenstrief Institute.

Health officials are cutting the isolation period for a person who tests positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.

“So if for example, if you test positive COVID-19, you need to isolate for five days,” Dr. Dixon said. “After that it’s five days of wearing a mask.”

Dr. Dixon says the new guidelines are designed to help you sooner get back to normal life. 

“What we’ve learned from the science is that people are generally infectious either before they show any symptoms of COVID-19,” Dr. Dixon said. “Or within that first sort of, you know, 48 to 72 hour period, if they’re asymptomatic.”

The CDC previously stated a person was contagious for at least 10 days, but new research shows a person is contagious for 7 to 10 days. 

“But there’s still a possibility that someone’s infectious at day nine, which is why we want them to wear a mask,” Dr. Dixon said.

“Viruses in general change all the time,” said Claire Roembke, manager of infection prevention for Franciscan Health Central Indiana.

Roembke points to the dominant omicron variant as one reason for the changing guidelines.

“It sounds like to me that it’s based on Omicron itself, and the ability to transmit,” Roembke said.

Experts still say the best way to protect yourself is vaccination.

“If you look at how you stop those mutations, that’s where treatment vaccination, where they talk about herd immunity, those are the ways that we stop those mutations and transmissions,” Roembke said.

Doctors say viruses in general change all the time and guidelines typically change with it.

They predict we could see updated guidance in the spring when students are back in classroom.