CDC updates quarantine guidelines, travel advice

Coronavirus. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday it had revised its quarantine guidelines for those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, as CDC officials warned Americans not to travel over the holidays.

“As we learn more about the virus that causes COVID-19, we continue to refine our guidance to prevent transmission and protect Americans,” Dr. Henry Walke, the incident manager for the CDC’s COVID-19 response, said during a press briefing Wednesday. “Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they have the virus. CDC continues to recommend quarantining for 14 days as the best way to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.” 

That being said, the CDC has now identified two acceptable alternative quarantine periods for those with potential exposure, including a quarantine of seven to 10 days depending on a person’s test results and symptoms.

Those who do not develop symptoms may end their quarantine after 10 days, or after seven days if they test negative.

Those people should still watch for symptoms for a full 14 days after exposure, especially if they stop quarantining before then.

“We are working with the state, so that we align across the state with a set of recommendations on options — and I want to call them ‘options’ on quarantine because nobody is disagreeing at all that the best thing to do is to quarantine for the full 14 days,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday during a COVID-19 update.

CDC officials also strongly advised against travel over the holiday period, instead recommending the best way to protect yourself and others is to postpone travel and stay home.

“Travel is a door-to-door experience that can spread the virus during the journey and into communities that travelers visit or live,” said Dr. Cindy Friedman, chief of the CDC’s travel branch. “We are trying to reduce the number of infections by postponing travel over the winter holiday.” 

Those who do decide to travel should consider getting tested one to three days before traveling, and then again three to five days after travel, as well as reducing non-essential activities for a full seven to 10 days after travel.

The CDC planned to update its webpage with the new guidance on Wednesday.

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