CDC to shorten COVID-19 quarantine to 10 days, 7 with test

The original 14-day quarantine recommendation was based on the belief that the virus' incubation period could extend to two weeks after exposure


By ZEKE MILLER
Associated Press

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to shorten the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19, as the virus rages across the nation.

According to a senior administration official, the new guidelines, which are set to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic.

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, leaves the White House Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The CDC is planning to shorten COVID-19 quarantine to 10 days, or 7 with a negative test result, according to a senior official.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, leaves the White House Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The CDC is planning to shorten COVID-19 quarantine to 10 days, or 7 with a negative test result, according to a senior official. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000.

While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure.

It’s not the first time that the CDC has adjusted its guidance for the novel coronavirus as it adjusted to new research. In July the agency shortened, from 14 days to 10, its advice on how long a person should stay in isolation after they first experience COVID symptoms — provided they’re no longer sick.

The new guidance was presented Tuesday at a White House coronavirus task force meeting for final approval.

AP writer Mike Stobbe contributed.

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