COVID-19 medical illustration

How to Quarantine

The U.S. Center for Diseases & Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 quarantine guidelines on Dec. 2, 2020. The new guidance calls for people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and lack symptoms to quarantine for 10 days without testing, or for seven days with a negative COVID-19 test no earlier than on the fifth day of your quarantine.

The CDC still recommends a 14-day quarantine as the safest way to prevent spread of COVID-19. However, as more data emerges, they have released recommendations on the safest way to shorten this quarantine period, if necessary.

Nothing about the incubation period of this coronavirus has changed and some infections will be missed by shortening the quarantine period. This risk has been deemed “an acceptable level of risk.” The CDC believes the change will encourage better compliance with a shorter quarantine and quicker return to work for people that are stretched to the limit at this time and have to choose between staying home to protect others and returning to work to provide for their families.

How it works

  • Quarantine for 10 days after exposure with no test. As long as no symptoms develop, return to normal activities (with all recommended precautions) and continue to self-monitor for symptoms for an additional four days.
  • Quarantine for 7 days after exposure with a test. As long as no symptoms develop and you receive negative test results on or after day five of this quarantine period, return to normal activities (with all recommended precautions) and continue to self-monitor for symptoms for an additional seven days. Consult your physician to discuss the best testing option.

Keep in mind that many people develop symptoms or test positive five to seven days after an exposure since it takes some time for the virus to replicate enough to be detected in testing or to cause symptoms.

If at any time during quarantine, you develop symptoms, you should seek out testing and continue isolation pending results and consultation with your healthcare provider.