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'COVID is still here': CDPHE reacts to relaxation of CDC's COVID-19 guidelines

CDPHE spokeswoman Vanessa Bernal spoke to 9NEWS about the recent CDC's recommendations, which included removing the quarantine requirement.

COLORADO, USA — After more than 2 1/2 years since the coronavirus pandemic began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines.  

The changes eliminated the quarantine recommendation if Americans come into close contact with an infected person, plus people will no longer have to socially distance themselves from others.  

According to the Associated Press, the CDC's changes are prompted by the recognition that about 95% of Americans over the age of 16 have acquired some level of immunity, either through having been vaccinated or infected.  

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said they are in line with CDC guidelines, which recommend individuals wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 full days after exposure to COVID-19. Coloradans who have been exposed to COVID-19 should begin wearing a mask as soon as they learn of the exposure.

"If you or your family member are at high risk for severe illness, wearing a mask can offer greater protection in public indoor spaces," CDPHE spokesperson Vanessa Bernal said.  

"The reality is that COVID is still here with us," Bernal said, adding that although it is no longer disruptive as before due to the availability of resources, vaccines and treatments, people who are at high risk of getting seriously ill should still take precautions such as wearing a mask to protect themselves.  

According to Bernal, the state has effective vaccines available for everyone over 6 months of age, as well as effective treatments. And while the current variants are more transmissible, she said the symptoms are much less severe than earlier in the pandemic. 

"If you get sick, treatments are available. They can help keep you from getting severely ill or hospitalized," she said. "Call a doctor, or look online for a federal Test-to-Treat location where you can get tested and receive treatment in the same place if appropriate."

RELATED: Omicron boosters soon to arrive in Colorado, expert says

Test to Treat is a nationwide initiative launched by the Biden-Harris Administration to give individuals a way to quickly access free treatment for COVID-19. Through this program, people are able to get tested and – if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them – receive a prescription from a health care provider (either on-site or through telehealth), and have their prescription filled all at one location.  

Coloradans who test positive or think they have COVID-19 can use telehealth to access treatment options faster by connecting with a doctor over the phone or through a video call. Telehealth can help speed up the process of accessing treatment, especially for Coloradans in rural areas or others who can’t access an in-person appointment fast enough. 

People can visit covid19.colorado.gov to find vaccine providers or get the latest state COVID-19 updates. Information is also available in Spanish on the website. 

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