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COVID-19: CDC Updates Isolation and Quarantine Guidance for General Public

On December 27, 2021, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance on isolation and quarantine period for the general population. The update is due to data demonstrating that the majority of COVID-19 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.

As defined in the guidance, isolation relates to behavior after a confirmed infection. Quarantine refers to the time following exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.

Updated Isolation/Quarantine Timeframes

  1. If you test positive for COVID-19
    • Without symptoms: People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter
    • With symptoms: If a fever persists, continue to stay home until the fever resolves.
  1. If you were exposed to someone with COVID-19
    • Fully vaccinated, including a booster: Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.
    • Unvaccinated, or more than 6 months since vaccination without a booster: For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days.

 For all those exposed, best practice also includes a COVID-19 test at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

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