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COVID-19 Update - Part II

 Last week, we talked about the Omicron variant.  Hospitalizations and daily positive cases have continued to increase since last week. The CDC has recently changed its guidance for quarantine and isolation related to COVID-19.  This week I want to talk about those recommendations.
What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
COVID-19 Update - Omicron Quarantine is the period of time you stay away from others after you have had close contact with an infected person.  
Isolation is the period of time that you isolate yourself from others when you are sick, or when you know you have a COVID-19 infection, even if you don't have symptoms.
What is the latest guidance for quarantine and isolation?  When should you stay home?
Quarantine recommendations depend on your vaccination status because those who have been vaccinated have a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 and a lower risk of spreading it to others due to lower viral loads if they do get infected.
If you are NOT up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and you are exposed to COVID-19, you should...
  • Quarantine for at least 5 days  
    • Stay home for 5 days.  
    • Wear a well-fitted mask if you must be around others in your home.
  • Get tested Even if you don't develop symptoms, get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 full days when you are around others, even in your own home.  Do not go to any place where you would not be able to wear a mask during the 10 days.
  • Avoid travel
  • Avoid being around people who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 
  • Continue to watch for symptoms for 10 full days after your last contact with the individual who had COVID-19.  If you develop symptoms,
    • Isolate immediately and get tested.  
    • Continue to stay home until you know the results.
    • Wear a well-fitting mask around others in your home.
If you are fully vaccinated, including your booster and you were exposed to COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine for 5 days.  
  • All of the other recommendations are the same as those who are not vaccinated.
Isolation Recommendations are the same regardless of vaccination status.  They vary depending on the symptoms that you have, and that difference is the length of isolation that is necessary.

All people who test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms after a confirmed exposure should...
  • Stay home for at least 5 full days and isolate from others in your home.  What to do after day 5 is discussed below.
  • Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 full days when you are around others, in your home or in public spaces.
  • Avoid travel
  • Avoid being around people who are at high risk of severe COVID-19
How do you know when to end your isolation period?
If you had symptoms but were not severely ill, you may end isolation when...
  • You have had no fever for at least 24 hours (without taking any medication that reduces fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) and,
  • Your other symptoms are improving significantly.
  • Remember that you still need to wear a mask for the full 10 days.
If you did NOT have any symptoms at all, you may end isolation when...
  • The full 5 days of isolation are complete.
  • Remember that you still need to wear a mask for the full 10 days.
If you were severely ill with COVID-19, you may have active virus for much longer. 
You should...
  • Isolate for at least 10 days.
  • Ask your doctor before ending your isolation.  
Mask Guidance
Due to the highly contagious Omicron variant, the CDC announced Wednesday that it is preparing to update its COVID-19 mask recommendations to emphasize the use of N95 and KN95 masks that better filter the virus.  Their website page providing mask guidance will be updated to reflect the different options and different levels of protection provided.  While the higher-quality masks provide better protection, some feel they can be less comfortable to wear, more expensive, and harder to find.  The CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, MD, added this comment to her announcement, "Any mask is better than no mask, and we do encourage all Americans to wear a well-fitting mask to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19." That recommendation is not going to change.
For more detailed information about quarantine and isolation for COVID-19, use this link... 
Here is a link to the mask guidance page.  It is not updated as I am writing this but may be by the time it gets to you...
Here are some other links to more of the latest information about COVID-19...

If you have any questions about the COVID-19 Omicron variant, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help.
Dr. Anita Bennett MD - Health Tip Content Editor
 
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