Fauci’s comments suggest something of a reversal for the CDC and the White House, which had previously defended the lack of a testing requirement.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters last week that the organization did not recommend a negative antigen test before ending isolation because the results, positive or negative, do not definitively show whether someone is still infectious.
“On the other hand, we know that after five days, people are much less likely to transmit the virus, and that masking further reduces that risk,” Walensky said.
Officials said that with hundreds of thousands of Americans testing positive each day as the highly contagious Omicron variant sweeps the US, the shorter isolation period for asymptomatic individuals was necessary to keep the country running.
“Obviously, if you have symptoms, you should not be out,” Fauci told CNN last week. “But if you are asymptomatic and you are infected, we want to get people back to the jobs, particularly those with essential jobs, to keep our society running smoothly, so I think that was a very prudent and good choice on the part of the CDC.”