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Long-COVID advocates feel 'sucker-punched' by new CDC guidance

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Kathryn Carley

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(Commonwealth News Service) Advocates for people who suffer or have died from COVID-19 say they're alarmed by new federal health recommendations regarding the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced people no longer need to isolate for five days and can return to regular activities, even with mild, improving symptoms and just one day after a fever.

Kristin Urquiza, co-founder of the group Marked by COVID, said the CDC has abandoned its mission to protect Americans' health.

"We don't want anybody else to have to go through what we're going through," Urquiza emphasized. "The entire community of millions of people are just sucker-punched right now by these recommendations."

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Urquiza noted more than 1,000 Americans still die from COVID-19 each week. Health officials said the recommendations reflect the progress made in fighting the virus, and people should still use common sense to protect themselves and others, including staying home when sick.

More than 1 million Americans have died from COVID-19 and it is estimated up to 20 million more continue to suffer from long COVID, with potentially debilitating symptoms.

Urquiza stressed despite the new health recommendations, advocates are pushing to establish COVID remembrance days, in Massachusetts and nationwide.

"These types of changes attempt to undermine the severity of what we continue to face," Urquiza asserted. "It's critically important that we do as much as we can to keep this in the forefront of people's minds."

Urquiza acknowledged COVID is not a politically popular topic but argued more funding is needed to address the pain and suffering it has caused. Advocates are also lobbying for a National COVID Memorial in Washington, D.C., to remember those like Urquiza's father, whom she said was looking forward to retirement when he died from COVID in July 2022.