CDC’s new coronavirus quarantine guidance ‘strikes balance’ with resistant public, experts say

Americans may find shorter quarantines more tolerable, experts say

Following reports Wednesday of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcing shorter coronavirus-related quarantines, top experts told Fox News the guidelines are reasonable given the resistant public.

The CDC announced two acceptable quarantine periods, though it noted that the previously established 14-day quarantine is the best way to reduce the risk of virus spread. Officials said quarantine can now end after 10 days without a COVID-19 test if the person reports no symptoms, or after seven days with a negative test result if the person reports no symptoms.

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Americans may find shorter quarantine periods more tolerable, experts say. (iStock)

Americans may find shorter quarantine periods more tolerable, experts say. (iStock)

"The updated information reflects that this risk of COVID-19 infection is not evenly distributed in the days after an exposure but rather is highest early on,” Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at the Johns Hopkins Health System, wrote in an emailed statement. 

Maragakis said most of the benefits of quarantine are realized early on, in the initial 10 days. Another expert at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Gabor Kelen, director of the department of emergency medicine, said the changes would also resonate with the resistant American public.

“The main reason that the CDC cites for changing their guidance is to increase the number of people who are willing and able to comply with quarantine,” Kelen wrote. “Too many people continue to resist the recommended public health measures, for a variety of reasons, and this new guidance tries to strike a balance of allowing some risk from days 7 or 10 through day 14 in order to get more people to comply with quarantine.”

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Dr. Robert Redfield on Wednesday said modeling data revealed that 10 days of isolation dropped the probability of the virus starting to replicate after that point to about 1%.

“The safest approach for those who are willing and able is to quarantine for the full 14 days since they could develop symptoms or begin to spread the virus at any point during the 14 day period following an exposure,” Kelen continued.

An expert with the Cleveland Clinic said the CDC’s new guidance appears to be based on sound clinical data and modeling and should make quarantine more tolerable for people.

“We continue to encourage masking, social distancing and avoidance of groups and travel as we are in the midst of a very large surge which may overwhelm our health care system in the very near future,” Dr. Alan Taege, infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic, wrote to Fox News. “We must all work together to dampen the effect of this surge until a time when a vaccine is available for everyone.”

Dr. Bojana Beric-Stojsic, associate professor of Public Health and director of the Master of Public Health Program, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University, also welcomed the new changes.

“I welcome new guidelines, as they are based on recent data and facts, since more is known about the virus, incubation period and occurrence of symptoms, transmission [and] therapeutics available, etc.,” Beric-Stojsic wrote. She added that while the majority of people will fall into the “safe” space on the CDC’s model, there will be outliers, as with all statistical manipulations of data. This underscores the need for continued caution and adherence to mitigation measures, she said.

Mitigation measures include frequent hand washing, mask use, social distancing and avoiding gatherings.

Mitigation measures include frequent hand washing, mask use, social distancing and avoiding gatherings. (iStock)

Finally, another expert at Johns Hopkins, Justin Lessler, associate professor, department of epidemiology in the School of Public Health, called the new guidelines “reasonable” but added one counterpoint.

 “I would have liked to see special guidance for people before having contact with individuals or groups at high risk if infected,” Lessler wrote. “For these situations, I think a 14-day symptom free quarantine after potential exposure or 10 days plus a test at the end may still make more sense. For example, if I was going to visit an 80-year-old relative, I would still do the longer quarantine before my visit.”

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