On December 2, the CDC announced new quarantine guidelines for those exposed to the novel coronavirus. While they still recommend quarantining for 14 days, that time can be reduced to 10 days if the person has not shown any symptoms or to 7 days if the person has no symptoms and received a negative PCR test. Officials reported that the goal of reducing the timeframe is to encourage more people to quarantine.
As the leader in COVID-19 solutions, our experts outline what you and your employees need to know about all things quarantine related.
What is quarantine?
Quarantining is a strategy used to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by keeping someone who may have been exposed to the virus away from others. It is effective at mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus, especially for those who do not know they are sick yet and may unknowingly transmit the virus to others.
When should you quarantine?
You should quarantine if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Close contact is defined as any of the following:
- Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes within a 24 hour period
- Caring for someone at home who is sick with COVID-19
- Having direct physical contact with the infected person (hugging/kissing)
- Sharing utensils or cups with someone who has COVID-19
- Being exposed to their respiratory droplets (They sneezed or coughed near you)
The exception to this? If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 3 months and are not showing symptoms, you do not need to quarantine. However, you should get tested again if you develop symptoms within 3 months of your first bout of COVID-19.
What should you do in quarantine?
You should stay home and watch for cold or flu-like symptoms such as a headache, nasal congestion, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, diarrhea, changes to sense of taste or smell, and a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Avoid contact with others in your home, especially people who have underlying conditions. If possible, physically separate yourself by staying in a closed off area with access to your own bathroom. If you are a client, reach out to your Eden Health Care Team via the app for any questions or concerns. We’re here to help in any way we can and can tailor further recommendations based on your situation.
How long should you quarantine for?
The CDC recommends that you quarantine for 14 days. This is based on “the upper bounds of the COVID-19 incubation period.” Given that 20 – 40% of people never develop symptoms but can still transmit the virus, it is important to quarantine for 14 days to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
When can you shorten that timeframe?
Even though the CDC still recommends a quarantine of 14 days, the following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives.
- If no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring, quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing. The CDC says, “With this strategy, residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 1% with an upper limit of about 10%.”
- If no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring and a diagnostic test comes back negative, quarantine can end after Day 7. The specimen would need to be tested within 48 hours prior to the planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays). The CDC says, “With this strategy, the residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 5% with an upper limit of about 12%.”
In both instances, you must wear a mask and monitor symptoms until Day 14.
Why has the timeframe been reduced in these instances?
A 14-day quarantine is still recommended. However, this isolation can impact people’s physical, mental, and financial wellness. The idea of quarantining for 14 days may also discourage infected people from disclosing who they were in close contact with or similarly discourage people from responding to contact tracers. The decision to decrease the time spent in quarantine for these two instances was made by weighing the added risk of spreading the virus against the need to reduce the burden for exposed individuals.