Central District Health supports CDC’s recently-revised isolation and quarantine guidance; favors non-test based strategy until more asymptomatic testing is available

Friday, December 11, 2020


Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley Counties – The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) have provided options to reduce the isolation period for people without symptoms (asymptomatic) who are close contacts of those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Fourteen days of isolation is still considered the best practice and remains the safest way to avoid spreading this virus. The revised options shorten isolation for some, and are acceptable alternatives to reduce the burden of isolation on individuals, families, and businesses.

The shortened options include a 10-day non-test-based strategy and a 7-day test-based strategy. While Central District Health supports the revised guidance for quarantine, it favors the non-test-based strategy at this time, because asymptomatic testing is not widely available within its jurisdiction. A longer quarantine also decreases a person’s chances of unknowingly spreading the virus to others, if infected without symptoms.

  • Non-Test-Based Scenario: Person was exposed, has no symptoms, and was not tested
    • Isolation can end after Day 10 from the last day of close contact with the positive case, provided no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
  • Test-Based Scenario: Person was exposed, has no symptoms and was tested
    • When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, then isolation can end after Day 7 if a diagnostic PCR specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.
      • Test method must be a PCR test
      • The specimen may be collected as early as 5 days after exposure
      • Quarantine can end only after the negative test result is available, but no earlier than Day 7

In both scenarios, additional measures such as continued symptom monitoring and masking through Day 14, must be met and are outlined in the full text found on the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.html

Regardless of what scenario is followed, symptom monitoring, masking, hand hygiene, and physical distancing must continue through Day 14. If at any time an individual develops symptoms during the 14 days after exposure to an individual who tested positive, they should isolate and seek testing.

The new isolation options do not apply to those living in congregate living settings, such as, long-term care facilities, correctional institutions, group homes, or rehabilitation facilities. Healthcare workers should continue following CDC Interim Guidance.

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