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Omicron outlook: Fauci considers more tests, schools go back online. Here's the latest.
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Omicron outlook: Fauci considers more tests, schools go back online. Here's the latest.

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As the COVID-19 omicron variant surges across the United States, top federal health officials are looking to add a negative test along with its five-day isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus, the White House’s top medical adviser said Sunday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now considering including the negative test as part of its guidance after getting significant “pushback” on its updated recommendations last week.

Under that Dec. 27 guidance, isolation restrictions for people infected with COVID-19 were shortened from 10 days to five days if they are no longer feeling symptoms or running a fever. After that period, they are asked to spend the following five days wearing a mask when around others.

The guidelines have since received criticism from many health professionals for not specifying a negative antigen test as a requirement for leaving isolation.

With COVID-19 cases surging just as students are about to return from winter break, dozens of U.S. colleges are moving classes online again for at least the first week or so of the semester — and some warn it could stretch longer if the wave of infection doesn’t subside soon.

In local school districts, mask requirements are returning in some schools that had dropped them. Some are planning to vastly ramp up virus testing among students and staff. And a small number of school systems are switching to remote learning — for just a short while, educators hope.

With coronavirus infections soaring, the return from schools’ winter break will be different than planned as administrators again tweak protocols and make real-time adjustments in response to the shifting pandemic. All are signaling a need to stay flexible.

Pressure from parents and teachers unions has added to the urgency -- and controversy -- surrounding safety measures as the omicron-fueled surge sends up caseloads and puts children in the hospital in close to record numbers.

Below, browse interactive guides and answers to common questions, plus view the latest data on infections and vaccination in our state and nation.

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