CDC to shorten the duration of quarantine for individuals exposed to Covid-19

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control are finalizing plans to shorten the proposed quarantine period for individuals exposed to Covid-19.

The CDC currently recommends that individuals be quarantined for 14 days after being exposed to those suffering from the coronavirus. The two weeks are based on how long scientists believe the virus can be incubated in the body.

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“The CDC is always reviewing its guidelines and recommendations in light of a new understanding of the virus that causes Covid-19, and will announce such changes as appropriate,” an agency spokesman told NBC News on Tuesday. The updated approach is likely to include testing.

This is a possible change that the CDC has been considering for weeks.

What the possible recommendation will be is unknown, but CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said in an October briefing that the agency is considering shortening the quarantine period by up to a week.

At the time, Redfield said researchers were investigating whether “he could use a test during quarantine to determine if he could shorten quarantine to seven or 10 days.” Without testing, he said, one percent of infectious cases may be missing.

“Obviously, we don’t want people to be quarantined unnecessarily for 14 days,” Redfield said.

Dr. Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, agreed that there may be a need to make quarantines more tasty for the general public.

“We need to optimize quarantine,” said Frieden, who is currently president of the Resolve to Life Lives public health initiative. “We know that the biggest risk is from the fourth to the seventh day. After that, the risk is lower,” in terms of transmission, he said.

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The CDC signaled a changing quarantine strategy on November 20 with updated international travel guidance. The agency advised international travelers to “test themselves three to five days after the trip and stay home for seven days after the trip.”

If the test is negative, “stay home for a full seven days.” Without a test, travelers must stay home for 14 days.

In an unrelated Tuesday briefing, Dr. Brett Giroir, the deputy health secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, referred to a “weight of evidence” that quarantine, supplemented by a test, could be shortened from 14 days.

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Erika Edwards and Denise Chow consented.