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State bucks CDC with looser COVID precautions

Chris O'Meara
Florida is advising people they don't need masks after isolating for COVID-19.

The Florida Health Department published a proposed change Thursday that would cut the number of days students with COVID-19 have to stay out of school.

Under the new rule, COVID-positive students would have to stay home for five days — not the current 10.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo announced the change along with other guidance:

  • Updating day care guidance to limit isolation of children to five days, with no test required to return.
  • Advising employers not to require that employees wear masks at work.
  • Giving physicians the flexibility to treat COVID-19 patients with off-label prescriptions if they determine it may help.
  • Making it clear that any person with COVID-19 is free to leave isolation after five days without a mask.

DeSantis said the isolation recommendation was "based on science and was informed by access to treatments, the benefits and harms of isolation, and widespread immunity."
"This guidance recognizes that the CDC’s guidance is vastly out of date and has forced Floridians to miss work and school even when it is safe to return," the announcement said.

“People want to live freely in Florida, without corporate masking creating a two-tier society and without overbearing isolation for children."

Many of changes dovetail with a recent recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortening the isolation period to five days for people who have no symptoms or who have been fever-free for 24-hours —followed by five days of mask-wearing to minimize the risk of infecting others.

That second part of the CDC recommendation wouldn’t work for Florida’s public schools, however, because state law prohibits student mask mandates.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.
Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where, as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. You can reach Randy at or on Twitter, @rroguski.