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This is how you isolate, quarantine, and test with the new CDC guidelines

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 21:12:47-05

MILWAUKEE — U.S. health officials are cutting isolation restrictions for Americans who test positive for the coronavirus and shortening close contacts' time to quarantine.

People with the virus can leave isolation after five days, down from 10 days.

People exposed to the virus can also leave quarantine after five days.

The Centers for Disease Control Prevention also recently released new guidelines that said health workers with COVID-19 no longer need to isolate for 10 days.

The CDC said healthcare workers who are fully vaccinated, including a booster, do not need to quarantine after high-risk exposures.

They can return to work after seven days with a negative test if they are asymptomatic.

If they deal with staffing shortages caused by COVID-19, then isolation time can be cut even further.

CDC officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that the coronavirus is most infectious two days before and three days after symptom onset. The decision also was influenced by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the omicron variant.

Milwaukee County's Chief Health Policy Advisor, Ben Weston, broke down what you should know about how to isolate, quarantine, and test with these new guidelines.

In a tweet posted on Tuesday, Weston shared the CDC's guidelines, but added a few notes for improvement and clarification.

Weston says rapid testing can play a key role in ending isolation, but said we need more supply and access. He also noted HQ masks should be standard, but requires more equity.

According to Weston and the CDC, here is what you should know:

Isolate if you test positive for COVID-19 (everyone, regardless of vaccination status)

  • Stay home for 5 days
  • Take rapid test if possible. If negative, proceed below. If positive, continue isolation.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after five days, you can leave your house.
  • Continue to wear a high quality mask around others for 5 additional days
  • If you have a fever, continue to stay home until fever resolves.

Quarantine if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19:

If you are one of these...

  • If you have been boosted
  • If you have been vaccinated and not yet due for booster
  • If you have completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the lat 6 months
  • Completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months

Then do this...

  • Wear a high quality mask around others for 10 days
  • Test on day 5, if possible
  • If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home

If you are one of these...

  • Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted
  • Completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted
  • Are unvaccinated

Then do this...

  • Stay home for 5 days. After that, wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
  • If you can't quarantine, you must wear a high quality mask for 10 days
  • Test on day 5 if possible
  • If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home.

According to Weston's notes, a high quality mask is not a simple cloth mask. It is a cloth with a filter insert, a disposable procedure mask, KN95, and others.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) expressed support for the CDC's new guidelines on Tuesday.

Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said the following:

“The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) supports Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations [lnks.gd] to shorten isolation and quarantine periods for the general public, given what we know right now about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Science shows that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission happens early in the illness, so CDC has shortened the recommended length of isolation from 10 days to five days for people with COVID-19 who do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, followed by five days of wearing a well-fitting mask [lnks.gd] to minimize the risk of infecting others."

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