Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a section of their website entirely devoted to COVID-19, they have been regularly updating their guidelines to represent the most recent research and developments in the battle against the highly infectious virus. On Friday, they majorly updated their guidance targeted toward people who are fighting the virus at home, changing their suggestions about how long people should remain in quarantine after infection.
Someone with Symptoms
The CDC offers two approaches: one based entirely on time and symptoms and another on testing.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should isolate for 10 days after symptoms first appeared—just as long as 24 hours have passed without a fever and without the help of fever-reducing medications and if key symptoms, like coughing and shortness of breath, have improved. If you have access to tests, you are free to leave the house if tests taken more than 24 hours apart come back negative.
Someone Without Symptoms
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms, the CDC offers two options: a time-based strategy and a test-based strategy.
If 10 days have passed since the first positive test and you haven’t developed symptoms, you can discontinue isolation. “Because symptoms cannot be used to gauge where these individuals are in the course of their illness, it is possible that the duration of viral shedding could be longer or shorter than 10 days after their first positive test,” the CDC warns in the update.
However, if symptoms develop, then the symptom-based or test-based strategy should be used.
Additionally, if you are asymptomatic but test positive, you can leave isolation if you receive two negative tests taken within 24 hours of each other.
Circumstances Should be Taken Into Consideration
The CDC urges you to make decisions of ending isolation “in the context of local circumstances.” For example, if you are a healthcare worker or come into contact with high-risk individuals, you should isolate longer.
Those Who Have Been Exposed But Haven’t Tested Positive….
…still need to quarantine for 14 days
The CDC still recommends that people who have been exposed to the virus, but haven’t tested positive or shown symptoms, still need to quarantine for 14 days—the time it can take to develop the illness. “It is possible that a person known to be infected could leave isolation earlier than a person who is quarantined because of the possibility they are infected,” they write. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.