Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Wednesday defended the agency's new isolation guidance for people who test positive for COVID-19.
Her remarks, made in a series of interviews with television networks and at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, come as the Biden administration grows concerned that a surge in cases, fueled by the fast-moving omicron variant, could lead to masses of Americans being out sick, disrupting society.
But the new CDC guidance, which shortens the recommended isolation time from 10 days to five days for people without symptoms, has come under harsh criticism from some health experts who say it was not based on "science" and could cause still infectious asymptomatic people to transmit the virus to others.
Some health experts have argued that people without symptoms should also be required to get a confirmed negative test to leave isolation. The current guidance only asks asymptomatic people to wear a mask for an additional five days after isolation, leaving it up to the public to assess their own COVID risk.
Walensky pushed back on the criticism, saying the new guidelines don’t require testing at the end of isolation because PCR tests for COVID can be positive for up to 12 weeks, long after a person is no longer infectious.