CDC updates, simplifies respiratory virus recommendations 03.01.2024

March 1, 2024

CDC updates, simplifies respiratory virus recommendations

MOBILE, Ala. — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has updated the recommendations for how people can protect themselves and their communities from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. The new guidance brings a unified approach to addressing risks from a range of common respiratory viral illnesses, such as COVID-19, flu, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), which can cause significant health impacts and strain on hospitals and healthcare workers.

CDC is making updates to the recommendations now because the U.S. is seeing far fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19 and because they are more tools than ever to combat flu, COVID-19, and RSV.

“This announcement reflects the progress we have made in protecting our community from severe illness from COVID-19,” said Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County. “However, we still must use the commonsense solutions we know work to protect ourselves, friends, and loved ones from serious illness from respiratory viruses. This includes vaccination, treatment, and staying home when we get sick.”

As part of the guidance, CDC provides active recommendations on core prevention strategies:

  • Staying up to date with vaccination to protect people against serious illness, hospitalization, and death. This includes flu, COVID-19, and RSV if eligible.
  • Practicing good hygiene by covering coughs and sneezes, washing, or sanitizing hands often, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
  • Taking steps for cleaner air, such as bringing in more fresh outside air, purifying indoor air, or gathering outdoors.

When people get sick with a respiratory virus, the updated guidance recommends that they stay home and away from others. For people with COVID-19 and influenza, treatment is available and can lessen symptoms and lower the risk of severe illness. The recommendations suggest returning to normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, symptoms are improving overall, and if a fever was present, it has been gone without the use of a fever-reducing medication.

Once people resume normal activities, they are encouraged to take additional prevention strategies for the next 5 days to curb disease spread, such as taking more steps for cleaner air, enhancing hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses.

These precautions are especially important to protect those most at risk for severe illness, including those over 65 and people with weakened immune systems. Respiratory viruses remain a public health threat.

The Mobile County Health Department will continue to focus efforts on ensuring the public has the information and tools to lower their risk of respiratory illness by protecting themselves, their families, and their communities. There are no changes to respiratory virus guidance for healthcare settings.