Everyone is buzzing about the newest options released by the CDC in order to potentially shorten the quarantine time at home after an exposure to someone who has COVID 19. I think it is important to take a closer look at these new options and dig into what they really mean.
The CDC recently released options to potentially shorten the time a person needs to quarantine after an exposure to someone with COVID 19:
- Option one: original guideline of full 14-day quarantine after an exposure
- Option two: end quarantine after 10 days if NO symptoms develop during the quarantine
- Option three: end quarantine after 7 days with a negative a COVID 19 test (taken no earlier than 48 hours prior to the end of the 7 days) if NO symptoms develop during the quarantine
At first glance option three looks like a great choice! Done with quarantine after only 7 days and a negative COVID 19 test? This sounds too good to be true! In some ways, it is too good to be true. It is important to read the fine print regarding the increased risks associated with options two and three: Option two (10-day quarantine) carries up to a 10% increased risk of COVID transmission and option three (7-day quarantine with negative COVID 19 test) carries up to a 12% increased risk of transmission.
Is the risk worth it? Personally, I think it is not. Selfishly, I would love to have quarantine shortened to 7-10 days because this would more convenient (i.e., if my kids are exposed, they can go back to school after only 1 week-that doesn’t sound half bad!). Unfortunately, the shortened quarantine options are not quick nor easy fixes to the current pandemic. Shortening the quarantine after an exposure may lead to further spread of COVID 19 if not utilized appropriately. Additionally, any individual who decides to pursue one of the quarantined options must continue to wear a mask and closely self-monitor for symptoms through day 14 following an exposure.
My advice is to comply with the original CDC recommendation of a 14-day quarantine after an exposure. If one of the new shortened quarantine options is being used, it is important for the exposed person to continue to wear a mask, perform diligent hand hygiene, and to adhere to strict social distancing. The shortened quarantine options are not designed for an exposed person to end quarantine after 7 days with a negative COVID test and carelessly attend a large social gathering. Anyone who chooses to use one of the shortened quarantined options should continue to avoid public transit, avoid large groups, and have the ability to work in a private space (i.e., not in a crowded office setting). Please weigh the risks and benefits and make an informed decision!