After two and a half years of promoting protocols aimed at reducing transmission of coronavirus, on August 11, 2022, the CDC eliminated its recommendation that people quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 and updated other recommendations. In recognition of how vaccination, boosters, and improved treatments have the reduced risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, the CDC has “streamlined” its guidance regarding what actions people should take to protect themselves and others if they are exposed to COVID-19, become sick, or test positive for the virus. The CDC now recommends that instead of needing to quarantine, someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 only needs to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days. During the 10-day masking period, individuals (regardless of vaccination status) should monitor their symptoms and get tested after five days, regardless of symptoms.
The CDC continues to urge individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to isolate from others for 5 days upon testing positive, or if they are sick and suspect that it may be COVID-19, but do not yet have test results. An individual may end isolation after day five if asymptomatic or if symptoms are improving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication). Everyone who tests positive should wear a mask for 10 days following the positive test; however, masking can end sooner if the individual has two negative PCR tests 48 hours apart.
The CDC’s website explains the isolation protocols to be followed after testing positive and the protective measures to be taken after close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
While some states have adopted their own guidelines, either mirroring or closely following CDC guidance, most states simply follow CDC guidance on isolation and quarantine requirements. New York State and California have not yet updated their guidelines, but we will closely monitor any changes.