Unmask the confusion over COVID-19 protection and quarantine

The new omicron variant is simply faster to infect people -- on average in three days versus five to seven days with delta.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The advice and guidelines concerning the coronavirus are changing constantly.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it will shorten the recommended isolation time for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19, and update guidance for people who have been exposed to the virus.

The change in guidance is based on data that shows that "the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after," according to the CDC.

SEE ALSO: Exposed to COVID or tested positive? What the new CDC quarantine guidelines mean for you

Doctors explain the CDC's shortened COVID isolation guidelines.

If the delta variant were a passenger jetliner, omicron would be a fighter jet. The new variant is simply faster to infect people -- on average in three days versus five to seven days with delta.

"We now know that you are most contagious right at the time of your infection," said Dr. Ronald Goren, an infectious disease expert with Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic.

Goren says that's one reason the CDC reduced the time of quarantine for infected individuals from 10 days to 5. But other factors could be in play.

"I think what the CDC is trying to do is run a line between not shutting down society, letting people live their lives and trying to keep people safe. I think that is what this is all about," added Goren.

If you have questions, you're not alone. You will likely have more as this virus evolves.

"I have to say I am sympathetic with the scientists trying to figure this out. It's sort of day-by-day finding out more. I just follow the rules as they come," said Florence Sturm of Bryn Mawr.

"That's part of the challenge. It's keeping up with that," added Bob Steere of Fairfax, Virginia.

SEE ALSO: Businesses making tough decisions amid rise in COVID cases
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Some local businesses are closing or limiting hours because of staffing issues. Others are shutting down for a few weeks to be proactive.

And when it comes to that mask, not all are equal. Dr. Goren ranks them as such:

  • 1. N95
  • 2. KN95.
  • 3. Surgical masks
  • 4. Cloth or cotton masks

But with omicron, experts are warning against using the cloth masks unless coupled with another mask.

"If you take a blue mask and a cotton mask on top of that, you have 95% protection," said Dr. Goren.

Above all else, experts say get vaccinated and a booster.

Medical professionals say those getting the sickest are mostly the unvaccinated, especially with omicron.
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