Shortage of COVID-19 rapid tests, confusing CDC messaging fueling Omicron surge

In the United States, people go to airports, travel, shop, hang out, go to restaurants gathering late without knowing if they have COVID-19 due to lack of availability of tests and confused messages from CDC on quarantine.

Besides the shortage and confusion, people who have rapid tests rarely report their results. As it’s common for people to have asymptomatic cases – and those who are asymptomatic are less likely to test if they don’t have symptoms – the number of those who have or have had COVID-19 is higher than reported, and not only in the us

Rapid tests are not as good at detecting Omicron cases, leaving a margin of error where undetected Omicron cases can lead to a false sense of security and infect more people.

This leaves many people exposing a lot more to COVID-19 without knowing it or knowing it for sure. Meanwhile, messages from the CDC have confused many people as to when and for how long to quarantine depending on whether they are vaccinated, boosted or unvaccinated, exposed and asymptomatic or symptomatic.

The CDC has faced further criticism after reducing the number of quarantine days from 10 to 5, citing that people who test positive should continue to wear a mask for an additional 5 days if they no longer have symptoms. This focus still leaves people with many questions, which leaves them in limbo and leans into the “I don’t know” feeling. CDC’s message is largely guided by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.



Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by President-elect Joe Biden.
Photo: Biden-Harris Transition Team

The decision to reduce the number of quarantine days was taken to reduce the shortage of workers, but rather left many people in awe. Five days is not enough for many to be completely rid of the virus and able to spread it. People are also not sure whether the guidelines apply to people who have been vaccinated or not, and what the guidelines are for people who have received booster shots and when.

Additionally, depending on the type of mask someone is wearing, it may also not be enough to prevent the spread of the virus. It also depends on the severity of the COVID-19 case. These and other questions have gone unanswered in the updated CDC guidelines.

Dr Fauci even went on national television to say that the CDC will clarify its guidelines and soon, asking for clarification that those who test positive should receive a negative COVID-19 test before ending their isolation.

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