CDC Revises COVID-19 Exposure and Isolation Guidelines

On August 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 guidelines on exposure and isolation. Most of the changes to the guidelines apply to members of the general public. The agency is still developing specific guidance for healthcare workers and for people who live or work in high-risk group settings (e.g., corrections facilities, nursing homes).

The CDC now defines exposure as an interaction with a person with COVID-19 that involves multiple risk factors for transmission. These factors are (1) extended exposure times, (2) activities with elevated breathing (e.g., singing, exercise), (3) COVID-19 symptoms in the infected person, (4) both people without masks, (5) indoor areas with poor ventilation, and (6) interactions with close contact or touching.

When two or more of these risk factors are present, the exposed person should follow exposure guidelines:

If you are exposed to COVID-19 If you test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask when indoors and around people, including at home.
  • With Day 0 as the date of exposure, test on Day 5.
  • If the test is negative, continue to wear a mask around others through Day 10.
  • If the test is positive, immediately begin isolation.
  • With a positive test and no symptoms or mild symptoms, isolate through Day 5.
  • With moderate or severe symptoms or if immunocompromised, isolate through Day 10.
  • Regardless of symptoms, wear a mask around others through Day 10.
    • You can stop wearing a mask after Day 5 with two sequential negative antigen tests taken 48 hours apart.
  • If at any time COVID-19 symptoms recur or worsen, restart isolation at Day 0.

The CDC also issued updated guidelines for schools. Since at-home quarantines are no longer recommended, these updates remove “Test-to-Stay” programs in favor of screening testing in response to outbreaks or after high-risk activities (e.g., close contact sports, prom, group travel) during times when COVID-19 Community Levels are High.

The changes go into effect as Sedgwick County’s COVID-19 Community Level dropped to Medium on Thursday, August 18. The county’s level held at High for four consecutive weeks.

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