We have new quarantine and isolation recommendations from the CDC for folks who are exposed or test positive for COVID.
“Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.”CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population
While some people are critical of the new guidelines, most others welcome them, as the Omnicron variant is filling hospitals and getting more and more people sick.
Understanding the New COVID Quarantine and Isolation Recommendations
In addition to helping increase compliance with quarantine and isolation recommendations, the shorter times can help get people back to work sooner, which is especially important as we face shortages of essential workers.
“The issue becomes one of acceptable risk. As quarantine shortens, risk goes up. After 14 days, post-quarantine transmission risk is effectively zero.”What Is the Optimal Length for a Quarantine?
But won’t that simply mean that more people will get sick?
“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population
Hopefully it won’t, especially as folks still need to wear a mask as they leave quarantine and isolation. We also have to balance the extra risk with the realization that many folks weren’t following the stricter quarantine and isolation recommendations! That certainly didn’t help keep risk down. Add in the fact that there are still so many people who are unvaccinated and who never wear masks and we know that we aren’t going to control all cases.
So what are the new recommendations?
If you test positive for COVID, five days of home isolation is obviously the minimum amount of time you would stay away from others. If you still have a fever, your symptoms are worsening, or they haven’t started improving, etc., then you would stay in isolation.
If you are exposed to someone with COVID, you should wear a mask if you are fully vaccinated or stay home for 5 days, getting tested on day 5, if possible.
Why get tested on day 5?
If you get tested before day 5, it might be too early. So unless you have developed COVID symptoms very early after your exposure, consider waiting until day 5 for a test.
What happens if you are exposed to someone with COVID who lives in your home?
“Quarantine is intended to physically separate a person exposed to COVID-19 from others. Secondary transmission of infection is especially efficient within households. Thus, when housing is shared (e.g., households or co-housed persons such as families, incarcerated persons, students, or military recruits), every effort should be made to physically separate the quarantined person from others such as by having the quarantined person reside alone in a separate closed room or closed area and with exclusive use of their own bathroom. When this separation is not possible, then the household members risk exposure to COVID-19 if the quarantined person develops the illness.”Science Brief: Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing
Then you should probably stay home in quarantine for an additional 5 days after they are no longer contagious, the time when they are allowed to leave isolation, with everyone continues to wear a mask for a full 10 days.
Double check the guidelines for quarantine and isolation from your local and state health department too. Are they in line with the new CDC recommendations or are they sticking with the older, stricter quarantine and isolation recommendations. If you need to go back to school or work, you should also check which guidelines they are following…
And yes,the Omicron variant is getting folks sick who are vaccinated and who have already had COVID before.
“Self-tests can be taken at home or anywhere, are easy to use, and produce rapid results.”Self-Testing
Also, you do not have to repeat a positive home COVID test.
A positive home test almost certainly means that you have COVID and you will simply be exposing others if you leave your home to get retested. Stay home in isolation.
Lastly, to avoid getting sick get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands.
More on Quarantine and Isolation Recommendations
- Breakthrough COVID-19 Infections and Deaths
- COVID Vaccine Booster Doses
- COVID-19 Vaccination Questions and Answers
- The Truth About COVID-19 Vaccines
- I’m Not Anti-Vaccine, I Just Don’t Believe in the COVID-19 Vaccine
- CDC – CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population
- CDC – Quarantine and Isolation
- CDC – Science Brief: Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing
- New isolation guidance for asymptomatic people was partly meant to increase compliance, CDC director says
- CDC – Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2
- CDC – Self-Testing
- What Is the Optimal Length for a Quarantine?
- The Word “Quarantine” Comes from the Italian Word “Forty Days”
- SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV viral load dynamics, duration of viral shedding, and infectiousness: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Viral Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Persons
- New CDC isolation and quarantine guidelines confuse some and raise questions
- New CDC isolation guidelines raise concerns among health experts