With an already-weary public tuning out rules and with omicron surging, some public health professionals are struggling to explain recent changes in federal guidance.
Dr. Michael Kilkenny did not expect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention news release he received on Dec. 27.
Four days earlier, the CDC had cut the isolation time for health care workers with Covid to seven days, if they were asymptomatic and had a negative test. The new announcement said that people with Covid could isolate for just five days after symptoms developed, instead of 10.
“When we got a press release on the 27th that seemed to contradict guidance we got on the 23rd — that was quite a bombshell for us,” said Kilkenny, chief executive officer and health officer of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, which serves Huntington, West Virginia, and the surrounding county.
Around the country, schools and health organizations scrambled to interpret the news release and adjust their policies — only to change course again when the CDC filled out details and its rationale in full guidance published about a week later.
“That gap left us guessing what we should actually do,” Kilkenny said. “That’s not good management and good communication. It leads to misunderstanding. It leads to distrust.”