On December 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) shortened the recommended quarantine period from fourteen (14) days after a person has been exposed to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), offering two alternatives. The CDC noted that the previously established fourteen (14) days of quarantine is the best way to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. The CDC guidance states that quarantine can now end: (i) after ten (10) days without a COVID-19 test if the person reports no symptoms; or (ii) after seven (7) days with a negative COVID-19 test if the person reports no symptoms. The guidance can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.html.
The recommendation for a 14 day quarantine was based on estimates of the upper bounds of the COVID-19 incubation period. Quarantine’s importance grew after it was evident that individuals are able to transmit SARS-CoV-2 before symptoms develop, and that a substantial portion of infected persons (likely somewhere between 20% to 40%) never develop symptomatic illness but can still transmit the virus. The shorter length of quarantine is hoped to reduce economic hardship and lessen the stress on the public health system amid a rising number of infections.
The shorter quarantine alternative requires the specimen to be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation. For example, for a modeled quarantine that would end on Day 7 and the diagnostic specimen could be collected starting on Day 5 or thereafter. These estimates assume that when diagnostic testing was performed, results would be available after the diagnostic specimen’s collection and before the end of quarantine.
Individuals can discontinue quarantine at these time points only if the following criteria are also met:
- No clinical evidence of COVID-19 has been elicited by daily symptom monitoringduring the entirety of quarantine up to the time at which quarantine is discontinued;
- Daily symptom monitoring continues through quarantine Day 14; and
- Persons are counseled regarding the need to adhere strictly through quarantine Day 14 to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions (mitigation strategies), especially. Individuals should be advised that if any symptoms develop, they should immediately self-isolate and contact the local public health authority or their healthcare provider to report this change in clinical status.
Please note, local public health authorities determine and establish the quarantine options for their jurisdictions.
The attorneys at Reno & Zahm LLP continue to monitor COVID-19 related statutes, rules, regulations and guidance, and we will endeavor to provide regular updates when warranted. Please contact us with any questions. We are here to help you make it through these challenging times.