Update: CDC Amount of Time to Quarantine

The CDC finally updated their website, on December 2, to reflect options for reducing the amount of time in quarantine. 

The CDC now recommends two additional options for how long quarantine should last. Based on local availability of viral testing, for people without symptoms quarantine can end:

  • On day 10 without testing
    • Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
    • With this strategy, residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be between 1 -  11% 
  • On day 7 after receiving a negative test result.
    • Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine cannot be discontinued earlier than after Day 7.
    • With this strategy, the residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be between 5% - 12%.

After stopping quarantine, the CDC is still recommend that people should do the following:

  • Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
  • If they have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health authority or healthcare provider.
  • Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash their hands, avoid crowds, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

However, they still have the following disclaimer at the bottom of the options to reduce quarantine.

CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days and recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus. CDC will continue to evaluate new information and update recommendations as needed.

I reviewed their data on the percentage possibilities of infection spread based on the day in which quarantine is completed and can be discontinued.

As you can see in the chart above we do not see a significant drop in the infection potential until after the 10th day. There is still up to a 10% chance that the individual could be infected and spread the virus. The RT-PCR* Testing at 10 days drops to a maximum of 2.4%.

Persons 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 monitoring during the entirety of quarantine up to the time at which quarantine is discontinued; and,
  • 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. They 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.

Moreover looking at the CDC disclaimer and the potential for infection rate being in the double digits until after day 10, as an organization you will need to determine what your protocols will be. As a risk manager, I will always err on the side of caution, especially since CDC continues to endorse quarantine for 14 days.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to call me.

Jim Greaves ASSP, FSR, PSS
Associate Partner & Director of Risk Management​

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