Local NewsSome Local Officials to Keep 10-Day Isolation Protocol After CDC Lessens Recommendation to 5 Days

Officials in Laredo, El Paso, and Hidalgo County disregarded new CDC guidelines after previously using agency warnings to ramp up protocols.
December 29, 2021
Although warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have prompted local governments in Texas to ramp up COVID-19 prevention measures in the past, some officials are ignoring the CDC’s advice to wind down.

The CDC has recommended for months that people who test positive for COVID-19 isolate themselves for 10 days. On Monday, two days after Christmas, the agency shortened the recommended isolation time to 5 days.

“People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter,” the agency announced.

“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 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.”

However, some local officials in Texas are sticking to the old guidance and keeping their recommendation that infected people isolate for at least 10 days.

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The Laredo Morning Times reports that Laredo, which built a reputation for its aggressive coronavirus response early on in the pandemic, will continue to “recommend and exercise” the 10-day protocol due to a dearth of coronavirus treatments.

“The state is experiencing a shortage of GlaxoSmithKline’s Sotrovimab (infusion), and the anticipated arrival of Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnupiravir (oral medication) in our community. Once these resources arrive in Laredo, the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) will evaluate and then introduce the CDC’s new guidance for our community,” the city stated.

Earlier this year, the city ordered citizens to isolate for 10 days after a positive test result, citing CDC guidance. The ordinance does not specify how the city may penalize violators, though it does empower the local health authority to impose longer isolation periods on individuals “depending on the circumstances.”

While enforcement is left to local officials, Governor Greg Abbott prohibited jail time as punishment for violating coronavirus protocols in May 2020.

Laredo is not alone. Officials in Hidalgo County and the City of El Paso have also expressed skepticism about the CDC’s new guidance.

While Hidalgo County commissioners haven’t acted on the guidance yet, a local health official said that rising infection rates should prompt the county to disregard the 5-day recommendation, The Monitor reports.

“In counties where it started, including our own, we’re seeing a doubling every two days. Every two days, the cases double — that’s never been seen before so we know that this particular mutation is much easier to spread the infection than the other ones,” Hidalgo County health authority Ivan Melendez said.

“In the northeast where omicron landed on December 5, they’re seeing a four-fold increase in pediatric admissions and we’re always about two or three weeks behind what’s happening in the northeast because that’s how long it takes for it to come over here.”

Hector Ocaranza, the prime health authority for the county and city of El Paso, likewise recommended that infected El Pasoans continue to isolate themselves for at least 10 days.

“The CDC’s recommendations are a guideline, but most importantly, we must look at what is happening at the local level and, again, how it might impact our immediate community. The number of new cases, our hospitalization numbers, and the increasing number of COVID-19 deaths continues to climb, and I expect this to get worse over the next several weeks as we begin to see the impact of the holiday travel and gatherings,” Ocaranza stated.

According to state data, new confirmed COVID-19 cases are reaching levels last seen during the most recent peak in early September of this year.

Fatality trends are slightly different. During the September peak, the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day was 313. Texas coronavirus fatalities dipped down into a trough at the beginning of December, reaching a low single-day count of 35, before rising to a high of 55 deaths with COVID-19 in a single day since then. On December 13, the last day with complete data, 44 Texans died with COVID-19.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.

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