CDC launches new pandemic forecasting center

This week, the CDC introduced a new team focused on modeling infectious diseases, called the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (or CFA). The agency aims to hire about 100 scientists and communicators for the center; they’ll currently focus on COVID-19, but will expand to other diseases in the future.

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The CDC’s isolation guidance is not based on data

Remember how, in December, the CDC changed its recommendations for people who’d tested positive for COVID-19 to isolating for only five days instead of ten? And a bunch of experts were like, “Wait a second, I’m not sure if that’s sound science?” Well, studies since this guidance was changed have shown that, actually, a lot of people with COVID-19 are still contagious after five days. Yet the CDC has not revised its guidance at all.

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Why the CDC changed its masking guidance, and which metrics to follow right now

This past Friday, the CDC announced a major shift to its guidance for determining COVID-19 safety measures based on county-level community metrics. The new guidance is intended to replace COVID-19 thresholds that the agency developed last summer, during the Delta wave; here, the CDC is promoting a shift from using cases and test positivity for local decision-making to using metrics tied directly to the healthcare system.

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The CDC is finally publishing wastewater data—but only ten states are well-represented

This week, the CDC added wastewater tracking to its COVID-19 data dashboard. Wastewater has been an important COVID-tracking tool throughout the pandemic, but it gained more public interest in recent months as Omicron’s rapid spread showed the utility of this early warning system. While the CDC’s new wastewater tracker offers a decent picture of national COVID-19 trends, it’s basically useless for local data in the majority of states.

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