Summary of Guidance for Minimizing the Impact of COVID-19 on Individual Persons, Communities, and Health Care Systems

United States, August 2022

Greta M. Massetti, PhD; Brendan R. Jackson, MD; John T. Brooks, MD; Cria G. Perrine, PhD; Erica Reott, MPH; Aron J. Hall, DVM; Debra Lubar, PhD; Ian T. Williams, PhD; Matthew D. Ritchey, DPT; Pragna Patel, MD; Leandris C. Liburd, PhD; Barbara E. Mahon, MD


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2022;71(33):1057-1064. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


As SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues to circulate globally, high levels of vaccine- and infection-induced immunity and the availability of effective treatments and prevention tools have substantially reduced the risk for medically significant COVID-19 illness (severe acute illness and post–COVID-19 conditions) and associated hospitalization and death.[1] These circumstances now allow public health efforts to minimize the individual and societal health impacts of COVID-19 by focusing on sustainable measures to further reduce medically significant illness as well as to minimize strain on the health care system, while reducing barriers to social, educational, and economic activity.[2] Individual risk for medically significant COVID-19 depends on a person's risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and their risk for developing severe illness if infected.[3] Exposure risk can be mitigated through nonpharmaceutical interventions, including improving ventilation, use of masks or respirators indoors, and testing.[4] The risk for medically significant illness increases with age, disability status, and underlying medical conditions but is considerably reduced by immunity derived from vaccination, previous infection, or both, as well as timely access to effective biomedical prevention measures and treatments.[3,5] CDC's public health recommendations change in response to evolving science, the availability of biomedical and public health tools, and changes in context, such as levels of immunity in the population and currently circulating variants. CDC recommends a strategic approach to minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on health and society that relies on vaccination and therapeutics to prevent severe illness; use of multicomponent prevention measures where feasible; and particular emphasis on protecting persons at high risk for severe illness. Efforts to expand access to vaccination and therapeutics, including the use of preexposure prophylaxis for persons who are immunocompromised, antiviral agents, and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, should be intensified to reduce the risk for medically significant illness and death. Efforts to protect persons at high risk for severe illness must ensure that all persons have access to information to understand their individual risk, as well as efficient and equitable access to vaccination, therapeutics, testing, and other prevention measures. Current priorities for preventing medically significant illness should focus on ensuring that persons 1) understand their risk, 2) take steps to protect themselves and others through vaccines, therapeutics, and nonpharmaceutical interventions when needed, 3) receive testing and wear masks if they have been exposed, and 4) receive testing if they are symptomatic, and isolate for ≥5 days if they are infected.