The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently revised its position on the amount of time that people need to isolate once they are exposed to the virus and the amount of time they need to isolate once they test positive.
Although these guidelines can be confusing, we’ve broken them down into simple steps to help you stay safe this holiday season.
What Do I Do If I Test Positive For COVID-19?
If someone tested positive for COVID-19, they were previously instructed to self-isolate for 10 days. That number has now been reduced from 10 to 5. The isolation starts on a day that a person tests positive for the virus. After isolating for 5 days, a person can return to their normal activities if they do not show any more symptoms. If they continue to show symptoms, they should continue to isolate.
In simpler terms, did you test positive for COVID-19? If yes, start self-isolating. The first day of your isolation is day 1. Isolate until day 5. Do you feel better? If yes, you can return to your normal activities. If you still have symptoms, continue to isolate until your symptoms subside.
What Do I Do If I’ve Been In Close Contact With Someone Who Tested Positive For COVID-19?
If someone comes into close contact with someone who had COVID-19, the CDC used to recommend that unvaccinated people quarantine for 10 days and that people who were vaccinated did not have to quarantine at all. Those guidelines have now changed.
If someone is unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or is vaccinated but has not gotten a booster shot, then the CDC recommends isolating for 5 days. If you do not show symptoms, you may return to your normal activities after 5 days; however, you must also wear a mask in public for 5 more days.
If someone is vaccinated and has received a booster shot, then they do not need to isolate. However, they must wear a mask in public for at least 10 days.
In simpler terms, if you have a vaccine and a booster, you do not need to quarantine at all, but you do have to wear a mask for 10 days.
If you’re unvaccinated, only got one dose of the vaccine, or are fully vaccinated but didn’t get a booster shot, then you still should self-isolate for 5 days. If you have symptoms after 5 days, continue to self-isolate. If you feel better, you can return to normal activities after 5 days. However, you should wear a mask for at least 5 more days while in public.
What Are The Guidelines For Health Care Workers?
For health care workers, previous rules stated that they had to stay out of work for 10 days if they tested positive for COVID-19.
New recommendations say that workers can return to work after 7 days if they test negative and do not show any symptoms. If there are severe staffing shortages, the CDC said that the isolation time could be shortened from 7 days to 5 days, “or fewer.”
These changes are a result of the recent surge in cases by the new Omicron variant. Staffing shortages have impacted businesses, hospitals, and airlines around the country. These new rules are intended to help reduce staffing shortages while still trying to keep the public safe.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky defended the CDC’s decision by saying, “Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact, many are going to be asymptomatic. We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”