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Coronavirus Update: Experts question CDC guidelines on isolation after testing positive for COVID as Biden continues to work remotely

President Joe Biden is expected to continue to work from his office Tuesday as he isolates for at least five days in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for people who test positive for COVID.

The President tested positive again on Monday in a ‘rebound’ case, a rare outcome of the antiviral Paxlovid with which he was treated last week.

Don’t miss: Paxlovid has been given to Biden and millions of Americans infected with COVID-19. In the U.K., it sits on the shelf.

Experts are concerned, however, that the CDC’s guidelines on isolation are confusing and do not reflect the changing nature of the virus some two-and-a-half years into the pandemic, the Washington Post reported.

The CDC recommends a timeline of five days of isolation, but does not insist on a negative test that would prove that a patient is no longer shedding virus and unlikely to infect another person. Yet new research shows that people often remain infectious for longer than five days, meaning it’s vital that when ending isolation, they continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home or in indoor spaces through day 10, the paper reported.

“Given that a substantial portion of people do have a rapid positive test after 5 days, I think an updated recommendation should include people having a negative rapid test before coming out of isolation for COVID,” Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and the Biden administration’s senior adviser on testing from December until April told the Washington Post.

The CDC is expected to unveil new recommendations in the coming weeks after an internal review, according to the Post, citing three officials and advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. However, a draft of the update does not include a test requirement before ending isolation, they said.

The daily average for new U.S. cases remains close to 130,000 a day, but not all data are being captured as many people are testing at home. The average stood at 121,313 on Monday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 4% from two weeks ago.

The daily average for hospitalizations rose to 43,653 up 5% in two weeks. The daily average for deaths is up 4% to 446.

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

•Japan is considering altering its COVID-19 reporting protocols, including a change in how it collects case numbers, in a bid to lessen the burden on hospitals as they strain under a new wave that has spread across the country, The Japan Times reported, citing government sources. Medical facilities and public health centers currently cooperate to report the total COVID-19 cases to the government, but the change may limit the reporting of cases to designated establishments. With the prevalent omicron variant having less risk of causing severe illness compared with previous strains, some government officials have questioned the need to report every case. The government is expected to start formal discussions after the seventh wave of the pandemic dies down.

• President Joe Biden is set to name top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve as the White House coordinators to combat the growing monkeypox outbreak, the Associated Press reported, as the illness replaces COVID in headlines. Biden will announce Tuesday that he has tapped Robert Fenton, who helped lead FEMA’s mass vaccination effort for COVID-19 as the agency’s acting administrator when Biden first took office, as the White House coordinator. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the CDC will be named his deputy. Daskalakis, the director of the agency’s HIV prevention division and a national expert on issues affecting the LGBTQ community, previously helped lead New York City’s COVID-19 response. Separately, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to speed efforts to combat the monkeypox outbreak, becoming the second state in three days to take the step, after New York.

The continuing spread of monkeypox has prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency. WSJ’s Denise Roland explains what you need to know about the outbreak. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

• Apple

is dropping its face-mask mandate for employees at “most locations,” The Verge reported, citing an internal email from the company’s COVID response team that it obtained. “Don’t hesitate to continue wearing a face mask if you feel more comfortable doing so,” the email reads. “Also, please respect every individual’s decision to wear a mask or not.” The move comes amid a surge in the highly transmissible BA.5 variant of COVID-19. Earlier this week, the Bay Area transit system BART brought back its mask mandate.

• The number of companies filing for voluntary liquidation in England and Wales hit a record in the second quarter after COVID support programs were removed, Reuters reported. Total company insolvencies surged by 81% compared with the April-June period last year, the bulk of them creditors’ voluntary liquidations (CVLs) which were the highest since records began in 1960, the government’s Insolvency Service said. Total company insolvencies were 13% higher than in the January-March quarter.

President Joe Biden posted a video clip to Twitter on Saturday afternoon after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday morning in what his physician called a rebound case. Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Here’s what the numbers say

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 578.5 million on Monday, while the death toll rose above 6.40 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 91.5 million cases and 1,030,554 fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 223.2 million people living in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, equal to 67.2% of the total population. But just 107.9 million have had a booster, equal to 48.3% of the vaccinated population, and just 19.9 million of the people 50 years old and over who are eligible for a second booster have had one, equal to 30.9% of those who had a first booster.

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