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CDC updates COVID-19 guidelines, relaxes quarantine protocols after exposure

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CDC updates COVID-19 guidelines, relaxes quarantine protocols after exposure

Gigi Stanor checks his cell phone while passing a sign placed by the Clarkston COVID-19 Task Force, in partnership with the City of Clarkston and DeKalb County on July 25, 2020. The task force distributed thousands of masks, hand sanitizer, and educational material to apartment communities in Clarkston to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Atlanta, GA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced updated COVID-19 guidance, which includes relaxed quarantine guidelines after exposure to the virus.

The CDC has removed quarantine guidelines for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 and is providing precautions individuals should take if they are exposed. The CDC now recommends wearing a high-quality mask for 10 days and testing on day five or six following exposure to COVID-19 instead of quarantining, according to a press release.

“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” said Greta Massetti, PhD, MPH, MMWR author. “We also have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

The DeKalb County Board of Health has also provided a breakdown of the new CDC guidance. For individuals who are exposed, here are the recommended precautions to take:

– Wear a mask as soon as one finds out they have been exposed, and continue to wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.

– Wear a mask while around others at home or indoors in public.

– Monitor for symptoms.

– Test on day six, with day zero being the date of exposure. If the COVID-19 test is negative, continue to mask through day 10. If the test is positive, isolate immediately.

– If at any point an individual becomes symptomatic after exposure, isolate immediately, seek testing and stay home until test results are received.

The isolation guidance remains largely unchanged, according to the DeKalb Board of Health. If someone has tested positive for COVID-19 and is symptomatic, they should isolate for at least five days.

Isolation can be ended after day five if that individual has been fever free for 24 hours without using medications, symptoms are improving. If those conditions aren’t met, the person should continue isolating.

If COVID-19 symptoms worsen after ending isolation, restart the isolation period at day zero.

If one does not have symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19, they may end isolation on day five if they do not become symptomatic. If symptoms arise, the individual should follow the symptomatic guidance.

After leaving isolation, the person must continue to wear a mask around others at home and in public and avoid going to places where they are unable to mask until after day 10.

It is recommended to use antigen tests if they are accessible. With two sequential negative tests 48 hours apart, an individual may remove their mask sooner than day 10.

The guidance also emphasizes that physical distance is just one component of how to protect oneself from COVID-19. It is important to consider the risk in a particular setting, including local COVID-19 Community Levels and the important role of ventilation, when assessing the need to maintain physical distance, according to a press release from the CDC.

The CDC additionally updated its guidance for K-12 schools. The agency is no longer recommending routine screening testing in K-12 schools. However, in areas with high COVID-19 community levels, schools and early child care and education programs can consider implementing testing.

Quarantine, social distancing and test-to-stay recommendations have also been removed. Masking is recommended at high COVID-19 community levels for all indoor areas, regardless of vaccination status.

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