“Disinfection is only recommended in indoor settings — schools and homes — where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 within the last 24 hours,” Dr. Walensky said during the White House briefing. “Also, in most cases, fogging, fumigation and wide-area or electrostatic spraying is not recommended as a primary method of disinfection and has several safety risks to consider.”

And the new cleaning guidelines do not apply to health care facilities, which may require more intensive cleaning and disinfection.

Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University, said that she was happy to see the new guidance, which “reflects our evolving data on transmission throughout the pandemic.”

But she noted that it remained important to continue doing some regular cleaning — and maintaining good hand-washing practices — to reduce the risk of contracting not just the coronavirus but any other pathogens that might be lingering on a particular surface.

Dr. Allen said that the school and business officials he has spoken with this week expressed relief over the updated guidelines, which will allow them to pull back on some of their intensive cleaning regimens. “This frees up a lot of organizations to spend that money better,” he said.

Schools, businesses and other institutions that want to keep people safe should shift their attention from surfaces to air quality, he said, and invest in improved ventilation and filtration.

“This should be the end of deep cleaning,” Dr. Allen said, noting that the misplaced focus on surfaces has had real costs. “It has led to closed playgrounds, it has led to taking nets off basketball courts, it has led to quarantining books in the library. It has led to entire missed school days for deep cleaning. It has led to not being able to share a pencil. So that’s all that hygiene theater, and it’s a direct result of not properly classifying surface transmission as low risk.”

Roni Caryn Rabin contributed reporting

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Vaccinated Americans, Let the Unmasked Gatherings Begin (but Start Small)

Federal health officials on Monday told millions of Americans now vaccinated against the coronavirus that they could again embrace a few long-denied freedoms, like gathering in small groups at home without masks or social distancing, offering a hopeful glimpse at the next phase of the pandemic.

The recommendations, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arrived almost exactly a year after the virus began strangling the country and Americans were warned against gatherings for fear of spreading the new pathogen.

Now the agency has good news for long-separated families and individuals struggling with pandemic isolation: Vaccinated grandparents can once again visit adult children and grandchildren under certain circumstances, even if they remain unvaccinated. Vaccinated adults may begin to plan mask-free dinners with vaccinated friends.

As cases and deaths decline nationwide, some state officials are rushing to reopen businesses and schools; governors in Texas and Mississippi have lifted statewide mask mandates. Federal health officials have repeatedly warned against loosening restrictions too quickly, fearing that the moves may set the stage for a fourth surge of infections and deaths.

had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and about 31.3 million had been fully vaccinated, according to a database maintained by The New York Times. Providers are administering about 2.17 million doses per day on average.

Mr. Biden has promised that there will be enough doses for every American adult by the end of May. C.D.C. officials on Monday encouraged people to be inoculated with the first vaccine available to them, emphasizing that the vaccines are highly effective at preventing “serious Covid-19 illness, hospitalization and death.”

scientists do not yet understand whether and how often immunized people may still transmit the virus. If they can, then masking and other precautions are still needed in certain settings to contain the virus, researchers have said.

The C.D.C. said on Monday that research indicated that people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to have asymptomatic infections and “potentially less likely to transmit the virus that causes Covid-19 to other people.” Still, the agency did not rule out the possibility that they may inadvertently transmit the virus.

There is also uncertainty about how well vaccines protect against new variants of the virus that are more transmissible and possibly more virulent, as well as about how long the vaccine protection lasts. Some of the variants carry mutations that seem to blunt the body’s immune response.

The C.D.C. advised that vaccinated Americans do not need to quarantine or get tested if they are exposed to the virus, unless they develop symptoms of infection. If they do so, they should isolate themselves, get tested if possible and speak with their doctors.

Vaccinated Americans should not gather with unvaccinated people from more than one household, and should continue avoiding large and medium-size gatherings. (The agency did not specify what size constitutes a large or medium-size gathering.)

The guidance is slightly different for fully vaccinated residents of group homes and incarcerated individuals, who should continue to quarantine for 14 days and be tested if they are exposed to the virus, because of the higher risk of transmission in such settings.

Vaccinated workers in high-density settings like meatpacking plants do not need to quarantine after an exposure to the coronavirus, but testing is still recommended.

The C.D.C. did not revise its travel recommendations, continuing to advise that all Americans stay home unless necessary. Dr. Walensky noted that virus cases had surged every time there had been an increase in travel.

“We are really trying to restrain travel,” she said. “And we’re hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them.”

The new guidelines clearly detail the rewards of vaccination and are likely to motivate even more Americans to seek immunizations and curb lingering vaccine hesitancy, said Dr. Rebecca Weintraub, an assistant professor of global health and social medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

“You can resume an activity that many people are yearning for — to be in proximity with those they love, in small gatherings where you can see each other smile and give each other a hug,” Dr. Weintraub said.

“It’s been well studied that anticipation is a significant component of joy,” she added. “These guidelines help each person coming in for a vaccine anticipate future joy. As a physician and vaccinator, I’m thrilled.”

Noah Weiland contributed reporting.

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