The Centers for Disease Control are recommending a big change for how long some people with COVID should stay in quarantine – a move that will let people get back to work faster.
The CDC says asymptomatic COVID patients should now isolate for 5 days instead of the previous 10-day quarantine.
The U.S. government's infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is telling CNN the reasoning behind the new recommendation.
"We want to get people, especially essential workers, back to their jobs to keep our society running smoothly," Fauci told CNN Monday.
With the Omicron variant surging across the nation, resulting in tens of thousands of new infections each day, businesses, like airlines, which are still struggling to recover from this past weekend's widespread flight cancellations, welcome the new CDC guidelines after facing staffing shortages caused by rising COVID cases.
"I think this is a terrific move there's really no reason why we need to be isolating people for ten days anymore," said Dr. Ashish Jha with Brown University's School of Public Health. "I think we have very good evidence that most people, particularly those who have vaccinated and boosted are not contagious for that long."
The guideline also suggests that the 5-day isolation period be followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the country is about to see a lot of Omicron cases.
"Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact many are going to be asymptomatic," she told The Associated Press on Monday. "We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science."
Omicron appears to be milder than the Delta variant, but still highly contagious. For example, the number of children hospitalized in New York City is reportedly up five-fold.
"This is a wake-up call to everyone that even if this virus is truly mild, if we continue to let it spread throughout the country and have over 100,000 positive cases in kids' week by week, we inevitably will see a lot more illness," warned Dr. Alok Patel with Stanford Children's Health.
President Biden, despite pushing several federal solutions, including a vaccine mandate, to stop the spread of the virus, is now saying that there's no federal solution to the pandemic.
"Look, there is no federal solution. This gets solved at a state level," Biden said during a call with governors on Monday, insisting that this has to be solved at the state level instead.
With the virus surging, Biden is denying a report from Vanity Fair that the White House rejected a call by medical experts back in October to ramp up production of rapid COVID-19 tests ahead of the holidays.
That plan reportedly called for getting more than 730 million tests ready per month.
And tests are in short supply right now.
In Miami and elsewhere, long lines have formed as people waited for hours to get their hands on COVID tests after stores ran out.
Meanwhile, overseas, Israel has started a trial of a fourth dose of COVID shots with 150 medical personnel getting their fourth shot this week of the Pfizer vaccine.
It's believed to be the first study of its kind.
"I'm excited to be the first person, apparently in the world, who got the fourth booster of the COVID vaccine," exclaimed Gili Regev-Yochay with Israel's Sheba Medical Center. "To paraphrase an old saying – it's a small jab in the shoulder, probably a giant step for mankind."
Almost half of Israel's population has received a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine so far.