Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves some new guidelines concerning the coronavirus.
According to the revised guidance issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the standard 14 day coronavirus quarantines can be shortened from 10 to 7 days, in an effort to boost compliance with one of the most important tools for limiting spread of the virus.
The move reflects the agency’s recognition that the two week quarantine rule is a bit much for many people and that most of the public health benefit from quarantining people exposed to the virus can be gained with a more flexible approach.
CDC officials also announced new guidance for testing before and after traveling: Someone planning a trip should get a test one to three days in advance and then be tested again three to five days after returning. And the agency reiterated its pre Thanksgiving recommendation against travel this holiday season amid a massive spike in coronavirus infections nationwide that is filling hospitals with covid-19 patients and claiming on average more than 1,500 lives every day.
The CDC acknowledges that this new guidance comes with a trade off. The existing 14 day recommendation reflects the ability of the virus to incubate for a long period before symptoms appear. But lack of compliance; for example, among people who are reluctant to talk to contact tracers because they fear they or their friends or family members could lose a job or two weeks of income could undermine the public health benefit from that standard.
“Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing. Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” Henry Walke, the CDC incident manager for the coronavirus, said during the news briefing. He also stressed the importance of preventing the initial infections: “We’re really asking the American public to prevent these infections, avoid travel, wash their hands, wear a mask and maintain distance.” and Cindy Friedman who is the head of the CDC’s travel branch, noted that millions of people traveled during the Thanksgiving weekend, despite the recommendations of her agency, and “this can translate into hundreds of thousands of additional infections.”
So in all; the quarantine can end after 10 days without a test if a person monitors any potential symptoms, such as fever, on a daily basis and has none. The exposed person is expected to continue monitoring symptoms and wearing a mask for the full 14 days despite discontinuing quarantine.
CDC scientists calculated that for people discontinuing quarantine after seven days, the “residual post quarantine transmission risk” is about 5 percent, with an upper limit of 12 percent, according to John Brooks, chief medical officer for the CDC coronavirus response. That risk drops to about 1 percent for those who quarantine for 10 days under the new guidance, with an upper limit of 10 percent, he said. Two prominent infectious disease experts welcomed the news of the revised guidance Wednesday.
Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, welcomed the revision in the CDC guideline, saying it will focus on the period in which most people exposed to the virus are most likely to become contagious. Right now, she said, contact tracing efforts are hindered by “deep disincentives” for people to quarantine. “A seven or ten day quarantine recommendation may be easier for people to bear and hopefully may help get more contacts of cases to comply and better enable efforts to stop transmission of the virus,” Nuzzo said Wednesday in an email. Quarantines apply to people who have been exposed to the virus but have no confirmed infection or illness. The goal is to separate those people from the rest of the population to prevent them from spreading the virus in case they are in infected.