With Omicron cases reaching new highs, it comes as a surprise to many that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new isolation guidelines shortening the previous ten-day quarantine to five for those who test positive for COVID-19. The CDC supplied data to back up their change in protocols, citing tests in South Africa that proved that the Delta and Omicron COVID variants are most contagious on the second and third days of contracting it, and become less contagious after about five days.

The CDC also cited the urgent need to fix labor shortages as the reason for their change in guidelines, which for many travelers has been noticeable through the increase in flight cancellations due to a lack of healthy staff. Just recently, JetBlue Airways canceled roughly 10% of flights in early January in response to a significant number of employees contracting COVID-19, resulting in the airline’s lack of employees to run their scheduled number of flights. The labor shortage is apparent in a variety of other ways too. COVID has slowed down the global supply chain: exported goods are taking longer to arrive at their destination due to workers at every stage of the supply chain contracting COVID. 

Large corporations seem to be in favor of the new isolation protocols. Ed Bastain, CEO of Delta Air Lines, sent a letter to the CDC just one week before they formally announced their decision, pleading for a shortened isolation period. However, soon after the CDC announced their change to isolation protocols, many took to Twitter to express their concern with this convenient timing of the CDC’s change.

Even though science backs up the five-day quarantine policy, many Americans still find it worrisome and stress-inducing that a co-worker could return to work still being COVID contagious due to their short time spent in quarantine.