CDC shortens recommended COVID-19 quarantine period

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, December 28, 2021

BATON ROUGE — Given the latest research on COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.

The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimize the risk of infecting others.

Additionally, CDC is updating the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19. For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than two months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days.

Alternatively, if a five-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.

Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day five after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccinations and testing are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday this week at the St. John Parish Public Health Unit, located at 473 Central Avenue in Reserve. Both PCR and rapid testing is available. Those who receive their first COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for the Shot for $100 incentive on Thursday, December 30.

Flu shots, tetanus vaccines and COVID-19 booster shots are also being offered.

Following the holidays, the hours will return to 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is no out-of-pocket cost. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome. Please call 985-536-2172.

Data from South Africa and the United Kingdom demonstrate that vaccine effectiveness against infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is approximately 35%. A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%. COVID-19 vaccination decreases the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

From December 26 to December 27, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 2,619 new COVID-19 cases. Out of 12,831 tests, 20% resulted in new cases.

The number of new cases over the four-day holiday weekend amounted to 12,831. Of the new cases reported since December 23, 99% were tied to community spread rather than congregate settings. New cases were reported among all age groups, with the largest increases among 18-29-year-olds and 30-to-39-year-olds. Approximately 40% of new cases statewide were from the Greater New Orleans Area.

While the Omicron variant is thought to be less severe than previous forms of the virus, the Louisiana Department of Health reported 17 new COVID-19 deaths across the state between December 23 and December 27.

“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”