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Fauci: U.S. mulling shortening quarantine window for asymptomatic health workers

"We want to be careful that we don’t keep them out of action for that long period of time," said Fauci, the government's leading infectious disease expert.
NYC Covid-19 Surge Brings Back Long Lines Outside Testing Centers
People line up outside a Covid-19 testing site Monday in New York. Angus Mordant / Bloomberg via Getty Images

U.S. public health authorities are considering shortening the 10-day recommended quarantine period for asymptomatic health care workers who test positive for Covid-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday, but the guidance still applies to most Americans for the time being.

The federal government's recommended quarantine time is "still 10 days," Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday afternoon. But health officials are mulling shortening that window for health care providers who "might get infected and be without symptoms" as the omicron variant tears across the U.S., he added.

"We want to be careful that we don’t keep them out of action for that long period of time," Fauci said, "so there’s at least consideration ... of diminishing the quarantine time to get them back to work safely."

"We want to be careful that we don’t have a shortage of health care providers," he added.

Fauci's comments came a day after omicron overtook delta as the dominant coronavirus variant in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The new variant was responsible for more than 73 percent of new cases in the country as of Friday.

The omicron variant is raging across the country in an "unprecedentedly rapid way," Fauci said Tuesday, echoing remarks he made on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning.

Here's a look at other significant developments Tuesday:

  • President Joe Biden attempted to calm fears about the variant, telling reporters Tuesday afternoon that “this is not March of 2020.” He urged more people in the U.S. to get vaccinated. “We should all be concerned about omicron, but not panicked.”
  • The federal government next month will start mailing at-home Covid test kits for free to any U.S. household that requests one, a senior administration official said.
  • Public health experts, nonetheless, say the drastic moves from earlier periods in the pandemic — lockdowns, school closures, business shutdowns — remain unlikely in the U.S., at least for now.

The mayor of Chicago announced that the city will require proof of vaccination if you want to inside restaurants, gyms, bars and other indoor spaces. The mayor of Atlanta, meanwhile, reinstated the city's indoor mask mandate.