BISMARCK, N.D. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Monday, Dec 27, 2021, updated recommendations for COVID-19 isolation and quarantine.
For those who have a positive COVID-19 test, a shortened isolation time has been recommended.
The isolation period has been reduced from ten days to five days, if the person is asymptomatic, or if symptoms are improving and the individual has been fever-free without medication for 24 hours at day five. This isolation period should be followed by five days of wearing a well-fitting mask while around others.
The updated guidance comes from research that shows most COVID-19 transmission, including the emerging variant known as omicron, occurs early in the illness, typically 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms, plus 2-3 days after. The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) confirmed the detection of the first omicron cases in the state a little over a week ago.
"SARS‑CoV‑2, the virus that we have come to know as COVID-19 is a novel, or new virus and we have been learning about it in close to real time as scientists and epidemiologists around the world gather data and examine patterns of transmission and trends,” NDDoH Disease Control and Forensic Pathology Section Chief Kirby Kruger said. “As more is understood about the disease, protocols and recommendations are being updated. These recent updates reflect what is known about how the virus spreads and helps us all understand better how we can take protective actions.”
Additionally, CDC updated the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19.
For people who are unvaccinated, the CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. If the exposed person is under the age of 2, then masking is not required.
For people who are vaccinated and are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose, or more than two months after the J&J vaccine, and not yet boosted, the CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days.
If a five-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at times when around others for 10 days after exposure.
Individuals who have received their booster shot, have had a prior infection in the last 90 days, or are within 6 months of their primary mRNA series or two months of J & J dose, do not need to quarantine following exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.
For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day five after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
The NDDoH encourages those who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families, loved ones and communities. All people ages 5 years and older are eligible to be vaccinated. Additionally, booster shots are strongly recommended for all individuals 16 and older.
“Recent studies indicate that vaccine effectiveness against infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is approximately 35 percent, but that effectiveness increases to 75 percent with a COVID-19 vaccine booster," NDDoH Immunization Program Director Molly Howell said. “Immunity, whether from infection or vaccine, wanes over time. Vaccines and booster doses have historically been used successfully to limit other viruses like measles and polio. Vaccines and booster doses are once again important as we seek to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.”
“The omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
For the most updated and timely information and updates related to COVID-19, visit the NDDoH website at health.nd.gov/coronavirus, follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/coronavirus.
North Dakotans are encouraged to speak with their health care provider or local pharmacist if they have questions about vaccines or boosters. For more information on vaccine locations, visit health.nd.gov/covid-vaccine-locator.