Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) is updating its COVID-19 quarantine guidance to reflect the new recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is now approving and promoting two alternatives to its previously recommended 14-day quarantine period. Regardless of this development, the CDC still supports a 14-day quarantine as the “gold standard” for those who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, quarantining has been a means of separation of someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19, and who may develop the illness, from others. Quarantine has been proven to help prevent spread of the virus.

The two new alternatives are not 100% risk free. The options are:

  1. 10-day option: Contacts who have monitored themselves daily and have not had any symptoms of COVID-19, quarantine can end after a full 10 days.
    • Release from quarantine begins on day 11.
    • A test is not required.
    • Monitor symptoms daily for the full 14 days following exposure.
    • The 10-day option presents a 1% risk of becoming infectious thereafter.
  1. 7-day option is for contacts who have: monitored themselves daily for symptoms, not had any symptoms of COVID-19, and tested negative on a test collected within 48 hours before quarantine is discontinued.
    • These individuals can end their quarantine after 7 days, if they have tested negative. Release from quarantine begins on day 8.
    • Test on day 6 or 7.
    • If tested positive, isolation is mandatory. Isolation for 10 days, starting from the date of your positive test.
    • Monitor symptoms daily for the full 14 days following exposure.
    • With this 7-day option, there is a 5% risk of becoming infectious thereafter.

COVID-19 Symptoms typically appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include:

  • New loss of taste or smell.
  • Fever or chills.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Sore throat.
  • Congestion or runny nose.
  • Nausea or vomiting.

CCPH Clinical Coordinator Cassondra Franco, BSN, RN, said, “While a 14-day quarantine is the gold standard, we at CCPH are grateful that the science is allowing for a reduced quarantine period. While there is risk in this change, the risk is low. We hope this shortened period makes quarantine easier on households and employers, as well as encourages greater compliance throughout our county.”   

All individuals, regardless of length of quarantine, should continue to monitor themselves daily for symptoms for the full 14 days following exposure.

For some populations, including people who live in a congregate and/or residential care setting (long-term care facilities, prisons, homeless shelters), quarantine generally should not be shortened from 14 days without first consulting with CCPH.

“This change becomes effective today and applies to all cases moving forward. For those already in quarantine prior to this announcement, it is OK to modify your quarantine period to align with these new options, if you so wish. However, in no circumstance should quarantine be discontinued before seven days have passed since exposure. Also, it’s important to be aware that testing has to happen after day five, not before,” said Andrea Carlstrom, CCPH director.    

“We regret to inform you that CCPH has reached its capacity for contact tracing. This is due to the overwhelming increase in positive cases in the county. While we look for ways to increase our workforce and streamline processes, those who receive a positive test result must isolate and contact their close contacts to quarantine in the event that we cannot reach everyone in our usual timely manner. CCPH will provide instructions on next steps at the time of the test, but we cannot guarantee a phone call as soon as the test result is received. We will prioritize positive cases related to schools, businesses and higher-risk populations. Last but not least, we urge everyone to please think before participating in gatherings and activities that are contributing to the spread of the virus in our county. Each positive case causes a dramatic ripple effect that is surging our systems.”

Regardless of the type of quarantine deemed appropriate, all contacts should monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 on a daily basis following exposure.

If someone is released from quarantine early and then develops any symptoms of COVID-19 in the 14 days following exposure, he/she must isolate immediately and notify CCPH.

To learn more about this recent change for a quarantine timeframe, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.html. For questions, contact CCPH at health@chaffeecounty.org.

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