The nation’s top public health agency eased its COVID-19 guidelines on Thursday, abandoning the recommendation that Americans self-quarantine if they come into close contact with an infected person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said people no longer need to keep at least 6 feet away from others. The Associated Press reports: The changes, which come more than 2 1/2 years after the pandemic began, are driven by the recognition that an estimated 95 percent of Americans age 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity through vaccination or exposure, agency officials said. said. “The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the past two years,” said Greta Massetti of the CDC, who authored the guidelines.

Perhaps the biggest education-related change is the end of the recommendation that schools conduct routine daily testing, though that practice could be reinstated in certain situations during a spike in infections, officials said. The CDC also dropped its “test to stay” recommendation, which said students exposed to COVID-19 could be tested regularly — instead of quarantined at home — to continue attending school. When there were no more quarantine recommendations, the ability to test was also gone. Masks are still recommended only in areas where community transmission is considered high, or if a person is considered to be at high risk of severe disease.

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