At CVL we continue to follow CDC guidelines regarding proper protocol around COVID-19 exposure and/or infection of staff. This week there was a major revision in the recommendations for isolation and quarantine periods for those directly impacted by the virus.
Given what is currently known about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if they are experiencing no symptoms, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that most 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. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if they are experiencing no symptoms at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.
Additionally, the CDC is updating the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19. 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, the CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure. 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. For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
Isolation relates to behavior after a confirmed infection. Isolation for 5 days followed by wearing a well-fitting mask will minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others. Quarantine refers to the time following exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID-19. Both updates come as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S. and reflects the current science on when and for how long a person is maximally infectious.