HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The Centers for Disease Control is cutting isolation restrictions for Americans who test positive for COVID-19 and shortening quarantine requirements for those exposed to the virus.
People who test positive for the virus can leave isolation after 5 days, down from 10.
If symptoms disappear or improve, you are clear to leave your home after 5 days.
However, the CDC says this is not the case when it comes to fever.
Dr. Kiran Malik, a physician out of Suffolk, says if you still have a fever after 5 days, even if it is slight, you must continue isolating until it breaks.
"If you have a fever your body's immune response is fighting it, it's more likely you have antigens in the body that are fighting so you're more likely to spread it," she explained.
People exposed to the virus can also leave quarantine after five days.
If you are unvaccinated, have not gotten your booster shot, it's been over six months since your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or over two months since your Johnson & Johnson shot, you are expected to quarantine for five days after being exposed to the virus.
If quarantining is not possible, the CDC highly recommends wearing a mask for at least ten days.
If you are have received a booster shot or have recently received your second vaccine dose, you do not have to quarantine at all.
But, the CDC does recommend you wear a mask for at least 10 days.
Dr. Kevin Chou of NowCare Urgent Center, a Bayview Physicians Group, says about 70-80% of current patients have COVID-19 symptoms.
He said the latest research is finding the new variant to be most contagious about one to two days before people show symptoms, and then just 2-3 days after, leading the CDC to shorten isolation time.
"The omicron variant is probably the predominant one in the area in the U-S right now," explained Dr. Chou. "And it looks like the incubation period is very quick, reports I'm seeing are saying three to five days. So if you catch it, you're going to get symptoms nice and early."
Symptoms are also looking a bit different with the omicron variant.
Dr. Chou says his recent COVID-19 patients are not experiencing loss of taste or smell. Rather, patients are experiencing a cough, runny nose, and fatigue.
"What's different with this variant is in the previous variants there was a lot of loss of smell, loss of taste. But with omicron, it's more flu symptoms," he explained.