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CDC Releases New Guidance on COVID-19 Quarantine

Dec 4, 2020 | COVID-19, Healthcare

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The CDC has published “acceptable alternatives” to a 14-day quarantine period for those who may have been exposed to COVID-19. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Anchorage Health Department have both and concur with the new guidance.

According to the new guidelines:

  • 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 about 1 percent with an upper limit of about 10 percent.
  • When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, quarantine can end after 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 about 5 percent with an upper limit of about 12 percent.

According to the CDC, “CDC recognizes that any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of increasing the spread of the virus.”

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Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink says, “These changes were made based on data on when people are most likely to test positive and become contagious after close contact with an individual who has tested positive.

“This is a common-sense approach based on the most current information we have about this disease. These shortened quarantine options will continue to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while easing the burden on those who must quarantine. This new guidance will help Alaskans successfully complete their quarantine requirements.”

And according to Anchorage Health Department Director Heather Harris, “These research-based updates will help get Anchorage residents back to their families and jobs quicker, make adhering to quarantine requirements more attainable, and prevent further spread of COVID-19. The more we know about this virus, the better we can get at beating it.”

The Anchorage Health Department provided additional clarification on quarantine guidelines in the municipality:

  • Given the small but real risk of transmission during days 8 through 14 following exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case, individuals who have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case should still avoid contact with vulnerable populations for the entire 14 days following their last COVID-19 exposure. This will protect against possibly infecting individuals at high risk for adverse outcomes such as hospitalization and death.
  • Quarantining for the full 14-days is still recognized as the most effective way to halt disease transmission.  If you have the means and resources to quarantine for a full 14-days, we recommend you do so.


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