Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

Why California and Oregon Broke With the CDC

| Feb. 04, 2024

Two blue states acknowledge that health precautions need to be balanced with other priorities.

Recently, California surprised the public-health world by easing the state's recommendations for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID. The state previously urged them to isolate for five days to avoid infecting others. In a January memo, though, California Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón declared that "there is no infectious period for the purpose of isolation or exclusion."

This policy change in the nation's most populous state—which followed a similar move by Oregon last year—represents a remarkable break from the CDC, the federal agency whose recommendations have guided public-health policies since the coronavirus first arrived in the United States. Four years after the pandemic began, three years after vaccines gave Americans the option of protecting themselves, and a year after the Biden administration let the official public-health emergency lapse, the CDC still calls for five days of isolation even in asymptomatic COVID cases.

The question now is whether the other 48 states and the CDC itself will follow California and Oregon....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Kayyem, Juliette.“Why California and Oregon Broke With the CDC.” The Atlantic, February 4, 2024.

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Juliette Kayyem Headshot