Play It Safe – How Long You Should Isolate If You Have COVID-19

Image by Pixabay

As the highly contagious omicron variant races across the country, more people — even the vaccinated — will get COVID-19. This has prompted the CDC to change its guidance on how long you should isolate if you test positive or are exposed to someone who has COVID. U.S. health officials now say you should isolate for five days (down from ten days) if you are asymptomatic. They also shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.

According to AP News, the “rules” were changed in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

Right before Christmas, federal officials loosened rules for health care workers to help prevent hospitals from becoming understaffed. The following week they changed the rules for everyone, in part to help prevent massive labor shortages.

Here’s a synopsis of the new CDC guidelines:

Isolation — These rules are for people who test positive for COVID-19. Starting with the day you test positive, you should isolate for five days. At the end of the five days, if you have no symptoms, you can return to normal activities but should wear a mask everywhere for at least five more days. If you stilll have symptoms after five days of isolation, stay home until you feel better — and then you can start your five days of wearing a mask.

Quarantine — These rules are for people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 but not infected themselves. Your quarantine clock should start as soon as you find out you were exposed to the virus. If you are fully vaccinated and received your booster shot, the CDC you do not need to quarantine but you should wear a mask around others for at least ten days. If you did not get a booster shot, the CDC puts you in the same category as the partially vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The AP article says you can stop your quarantine after five days if you wear masks in all settings for five days afterward.

Officials remind everyone that vaccination and booster shots are the best way to prevent a COVID infection. If you do contract a breakthrough case your symptoms will likely be very mild or you may be asymptomatic.  

The Seniors Trust is committed to improving the lives of seniors by working to improve Social Security. It wants to see Congress pass the Social Security Expansion Act. This landmark piece of legislation will provide bigger monthly Social Security benefits, establish a more realistic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for seniors, and guarantee the long-term solvency of the Social Security program.