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CDC urges Americans against traveling for Thanksgiving as coronavirus outbreak worsens

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Resorts set up social distancing for tourists

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CDC expected to shorten recommended time

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering shortening its recommended two-week quarantine period for people who have come in contact with people who have it — a change welcomed by some medical experts who say the relaxed guidelines would be easier for people to follow.

Current CDC guidelines recommend that anyone exposed to a person with the coronavirus quarantine at home for 14 days, even if they test negative for the virus. Scientists say that helps prevent further spread of the disease before they start showing symptoms or from those who don’t develop any symptoms.

However, CDC Director Robert Redfield said in late October that those guidelines were made when diagnostic testing wasn’t as readily available as it is today. At the time, Redfield said the agency was trying to determine whether a quarantine period could be shortened to as little as seven days with a negative Covid-19 test.

“It’s data driven, it’s under evaluation, obviously we don’t want people to be quarantined for 14 days unnecessarily,” Redfield said during an Oct. 21 press briefing at the CDC’s headquarters in Atlanta.

Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for Covid-19 response, said the agency is now finalizing those new guidelines to recommend a quarantine period for seven to 10 days with a negative Covid-19 test, according to The Wall Street Journal. Agency officials are still determining the exact length of the quarantine and what type of test would be needed to end it, the Journal reported on Tuesday.

“CDC is always reviewing its guidance and recommendations in the light of new understandings of the virus that causes COVID-19, and will announce such changes when appropriate,” CDC spokesperson Belsie Gonzalez told CNBC on Wednesday.

Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who leads the federal government’s testing efforts as part of the White House coronavirus task force, said during a press call on Tuesday that there’s beginning to be “a preponderance of evidence that a shorter quarantine complemented by a test might be able to shorten that quarantine period from 14 days” to a shorter period.

“We are actively working on that type of guidance right now, reviewing the evidence, but we want to make absolutely sure,” Giroir told reporters. “These kind of recommendations aren’t willy-nilly. They’re worked on with a variety of experts.”

‘Should have done this sooner’

The shorter quarantine period could make it easier for people to follow the CDC’s recommendations since most people were likely shortening the two-week period on their own, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Commissioner, said on Wednesday.

For people who have Covid-19 but are asymptomatic, meaning they never develop symptoms, chances are they will no longer be very contagious after seven to 10 days, Gottlieb said. The number of people who will contract the infection two weeks after their exposure is also “very small,” he said.

“I mean, frankly, we probably should have done this sooner,” Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “Asking people to quarantine for a full two weeks, to self-isolate for a full two weeks because of an exposure is just going to drive people not to comply with the rules. We’re better off doing something that’s practical.”

Former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, who served under President Barack Obama, told NBC News that the U.S. “needs to optimize quarantine” and that the biggest risk is from four to seven days and then it drops off after that.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, an Emory University professor of medicine, told CNBC that the move “makes sense” and recommended that people get tested immediately after being exposed to Covid-19, quarantine for at least seven days and then get tested again to ensure they’re negative.

“We’ve been talking to CDC and others about how do we incorporate testing into a way out of quarantine,” he told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell.

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that a two-week quarantine makes people reluctant to get tested for Covid-19 because a positive result could put them out of work.

“They don’t want to say, ‘Well, I’m tested, and now I have to stay out of work, I may lose money, I’m not getting subsidized, and I might even lose my job,'” Fauci said. “So, it might be that the balance — the better part of this equation — would be to encourage people more to get tested so that they’re not out of whatever it is that they need to be, their job, their employment, their source of income. That’s the real reason for it.”

— CNBC’s Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this report.


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Preorders show pandemic-driven outdoor boom ‘not a trend’

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Americans’ interest in outdoor activities blossomed this year as consumers sought health-conscious ways to spend the time during the coronavirus pandemic.

Boat, RV and camping-related sales, like car sales, have surged, despite the pandemic-induced recession, and it has led to higher sales in outdoor attire and other equipment for retailers like L.L.Bean.

Stephen Smith, chief executive of the private company that specializes in clothing and outdoor recreation equipment, told CNBC Wednesday that sales are up triple digits in multiple categories and that the company is seeing optimistic signs that it’s not just a fad that will fade away.

“We feel like this is not a trend, this is a connection back to nature,” he said in a “Squawk on the Street” interview. “It’s an understanding of, you know, the physical and mental benefits of being outside, and we think that that will continue into 2021.”

L.L.Bean, which is based in Freeport, Maine, reports that sales in the winter sports category are up 165%. Snow tube sales have surged 114% and snowshoe sales have skyrocketed 340%, the company said.

With a global health crisis disrupting the year, 2020 has been “unprecedented” for retail, said Smith, who noted that consumers were looking for both outdoor connections as well as indoor comfort during the spring and summer months.

By September, winter was on people’s mind as customers began buying up cross country skis. Now with the year nearing a close, L.L.Bean is seeing early interest in outerwear as some customers have their mind on the spring.

“We feel really good about where we are heading into the spring and summer. So many new outdoor enthusiasts with new gear, new activities, a new connection to the outdoors,” Smith said. “The fact that we’ve seen winter gear selling so early, we’re already seeing some signs of preorders around spring and summer activities.”

To keep up with changing consumer habits as more people shop from home and rely on deliveries, Smith said it’s important for retailers to have an omnichannel approach, including having a physical store presence while continuing to build out a digital presence.

However, brick-and-mortar will still play an important role, especially post-pandemic when consumers will be ready to get out the house, travel and shop in person again, an opportunity to touch and feel the products they are buying, Smith said.

“As customers change, the best retailers need to change with them,” he said.


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