The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Tuesday that it is adopting newly revised COVID-19 quarantine guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that were released earlier this month.
VDH and the CDC recommends people who test positive for coronavirus or may have been exposed to quarantine for a full 14 days, but the new guidelines have two additional alternatives for a shorter length of isolation.
The first alternative is to end quarantine after ten days without receiving a test and if no symptoms were reported during daily health monitoring. According to the CDC, with this method the “residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 1 percent with an upper limit of about 10 percent.”
The second option is to end quarantine on day 7 after getting a negative PCR or negative antigen test performed on or after day 5 and showing no symptoms throughout the period. The CDC estimates the residual post-quarantine transmission risk with this strategy is roughly 5 percent and an upper limit of about 12 percent.
“Any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus,” VDH said in the news release.
VDH also said it is still important to watch for any symptoms of the virus until 14 days after exposure.
The VDH is continuing to recommend that healthcare personnel and residents as well as staff in healthcare facilities follow the 14-day quarantine rule.
In the same news release, the VDH also announced that it is changing its contact tracing prioritization, in accordance with new CDC guidelines, to specific groups of people because of high levels of COVID community transmission.
Those groups include: people diagnosed with the virus in the last six days and others living in the same household; people living or working in congregate living facilities like nursing homes; people associated in known clusters or outbreaks and, lastly, people who are at an increased risk of severe illness.
This means that the VDH and local health departments may not be contacting every Virginian with coronavirus or close contacts of someone who tested positive, according to the release.
“As cases of COVID-19 increase across the Commonwealth, this change will allow us to deploy resources where they will have the most impact,” Virginia State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said in the release. “We urge residents to continue to follow public health guidance on wearing masks and physical distancing, and to notify their circle of friends and family quickly if diagnosed with COVID-19.”
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