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Western New York experts talk about the CDC loosening COVID-19 recommendations

Given high population immunity and high vaccination levels, the CDC announced it is time to put an end to some long-standing COVID-19 recommendations.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The CDC cites high levels of population immunity and high vaccination numbers as reasons why they feel the need to loosen COVID-19 recommendations moving forward. 

On Thursday, the agency announced some significant changes, including that it is no longer recommending: 

  • Quarantining after being exposed
  • Test-To-Stay in schools (unless a student is symptomatic)
  • Relaxed guidelines for masking

Dr. Thomas Russo is the chair of the Department of Infectious Disease at the University at Buffalo and says these relaxed recommendations don't come as a surprise. 

"We're in a different place than we were a year ago, we now have vaccines approved for all of our school aged children," Russo said. "Both the adult and the pediatric population have a lot more immunity to protect them against COVID. And that's come from the combination of vaccination and also prior infection. There's been estimates that 75% or more of our children have already been infected."

This comes as good news for some school districts, like Hamburg Central School District, whose Superintendent, Mike Cornell, says he supports these changes and "I think it's exactly what people were expecting."

Cornell tells 2 On Your Side's Liz Lewin, "Kids have experienced the least serious COVID related symptoms, yet they have absolutely suffered the greatest under COVID related restrictions and requirements, their lives have been turned upside down. And we just can't have that anymore."

As it relates to changes around "test-to-stay" guidelines in schools, Cornell says, while it served a very important purpose in keeping as many kids in schools as possible, it wasn't easy. 

"It was challenging," Cornell says. "It did stretch us organizationally. But we have great people, you know, working in our school districts all across Western New York and in here in Hamburg. So we made it work, because we had to make it work."

Some guidelines are however staying the same, especially as it relates to people who test positive or those with symptoms. 

The CDC still encourages testing if you're symptomatic and that people who are showing signs of COVID wear masks around others. If you test positive, recommendations are still that you stay home for at least five days and wear a mask around others for at least 10 days. 

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