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2 Weeks in Quarantine? That May Be Changing

CDC is said to be finalizing recommendations to shorten period in isolation to 7 to 10 days
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2020 7:03 AM CST
Updated Nov 29, 2020 2:25 PM CST

(Newser) – Some people are balking at the CDC's current 14-day recommendations for COVID-19 quarantining, and so now the agency may mitigate that by simply slashing the quarantine period. The CDC's Henry Walke tells the Wall Street Journal that although recommendations are still being finalized, the new duration would likely range between seven and 10 days, as long as the patient tested negative for the virus at the end of the quarantine. With that negative test in hand, "their probability of going on and developing an infection after that is pretty low," he notes, adding that though tests could miss some infections, it may be worth it in the big picture if it means more people would quarantine for the shorter time period, rather than for just a few days or not at all. The current 14-day period was arrived at based on how long researchers think it takes from initial infection for patients to develop symptoms.

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NBC News notes the CDC has been mulling this change for weeks. Some experts say two weeks of quarantine has become onerous, with employees missing work, public health agencies struggling to keep tabs on the quarantined, and a general public beset by pandemic fatigue that has them easing up on or ignoring restrictions, per the WSJ. This updated guideline, however, could tax an already strained testing system, and it's not yet clear if people would actually adhere to the quarantine recommendation if it was shortened. Still, some health officials think it's worth a shot. "Shortening quarantine recommendations to focus on the period of time during which the vast majority of people who are exposed to the virus are likely to become contagious is a smart, pragmatic move," Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells NPR. (Read more quarantine stories.)

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