Del. Adopts CDC Guidance Regarding Quarantine Following A Positive COVID-19 Test

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Delaware Public Health said Tuesday that it will implement updated guidance that was issued by the CDC Monday that reduces the recommended time that people should quarantine or isolate from ten days to five days, based on certain conditions and vaccination status, following a positive test for COVID-19 but not showing symptoms.

DPS also plans to refocus its contact tracing efforts on case investigation and contact tracing in high-risk settings, which may include schools and long-term care facilities. People who are found to be positive will be asked to inform their close contacts of their status, which will reduce the need for epidemiologists to reach out.

Employers and schools are being advised that they can move forward to apply this new guidance for their employees and students.

“We know this sudden change in isolation and quarantine guidance will take time for everyone to review, understand and implement,” Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. “But we want to follow the science and what it’s telling us is that people are mostly infectious earlier in their exposure and longer periods of isolation and quarantine are not necessary. We also want to prepare folks that because it will take our contact tracers a few weeks to implement this change in our system, that people may receive conflicting guidance.  But we believe it’s important to empower individuals, employers and schools to make the isolation and quarantine changes themselves, providing they understand the conditions attached to the CDC’s guidance.”

According to the CDC guidance: 

  • For those who test positive for COVID-19 – but don’t have symptoms – the isolation period can be reduced from 10 days to 5 days as long as the person wears a mask around others (in and out-of-home) for at least 5 additional days. If you have a fever, remain in isolation until the fever resolves.
  • For close contacts who are unvaccinated, or more than 6 months out from their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or 2 months out from their single dose of Johnson & Johnson (without a booster), quarantine has been reduced from 10 days to 5 days, followed by mask use for an additional 5 days.
  • For close contacts who have received their booster shot, or are less than six months out from being fully vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna or are less than 2 months from their J&J vaccine, no quarantine is needed, but these persons should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure to the positive case.
  • For vaccinated close contacts who are not yet eligible for a booster – including students younger than 16 – no quarantine is needed. DPH is reviewing the guidance and evaluating its impact on the Test-to-Stay program.

According to the CDC, for all those exposed, best practice would also include a COVID-19 test at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not related to COVID-19.

“The most important thing that Delawareans can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and to get their booster if they are eligible,” Rattay said. “In addition, everyone can protect themselves and their families by wearing a face mask in public places; washing their hands; maintaining social distancing and avoiding crowds, especially indoors; and getting tested if they have symptoms, have had an exposure, or are required by their employer. And if you are planning a New Year’s celebration, please keep the gathering small and wear a face mask if you do not know everyone’s vaccination status.”