The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its isolation and quarantine recommendations this week and San Juan Basin Public Health has followed suit.
“We are already taking steps to operationalize and adhere to the new quarantine and isolation guidance that the CDC has passed down,” said Chandler Griffin, a spokesman for SJBPH, on Wednesday.
Those who test positive or are exposed to COVID-19 will now receive new information from SJBPH during the contact-tracing process, he said.
The CDC shortened its isolation requirements by half for those sick with COVID-19.
Those who are symptomatic should now isolate for five days from the onset of symptoms or until 24 hours after their fever breaks, down from the previous guidance of 10 days.
If a person is asymptomatic, they should isolate five days from their positive test.
Both groups should wear a mask for an additional five days once their isolation is over.
“The isolation guidance has changed, but the basics stay the same,” Griffin said. “Stay home, except to get medical care. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. If possible, wear a well-fitting face mask when you are around other people or pets and before you enter a health care provider’s office if you're getting health care.”
Guidelines also changed for those who have been exposed, but have not tested positive.
Those who have not received their booster or remain unvaccinated should quarantine for five days and wear a mask for another five days, testing on day five. If unable to quarantine, a person should wear a mask for 10 days.
The CDC advises wearing a well-fitting mask that fits snugly without any air leaks for 10 days and testing on day five.
Those who have received their booster shot, the initial two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in the last six months, or who have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last two months, do not need to quarantine, in line with the CDC’s previous recommendation for the fully vaccinated.
Those who live or work with susceptible populations in long-term care facilities, prisons or homeless shelters may still have to quarantine for longer, Griffin said.
The distinction between those who are boosted and those who are not is based on emerging data from South Africa and the U.K.
Two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) is approximately 35% effective against the omicron variant, according to the CDC. A booster dose restores the protection against infection to 75%.
While the efficacy of vaccines against infection wanes with omicron, they still protect against severe disease and hospitalization, according to a report from the U.K. Health Security Agency.
The changes to CDC and SJBPH’s guidelines also come as evidence has emerged showing that the majority of disease transmission occurs early on one to two days before symptoms and two to three days after.
“It is acknowledging that it is most important that people comply with isolation and quarantine in the most critical time, which is the first five days, and due to the fact that the research indicates there is not 100% compliance with 10 days of isolation or 14 days of quarantine, this change is to really heighten the efficacy (of these guidelines) during this very, very busy time,” said Liane Jollon, executive director of SJBPH.
Countries in Europe, including the U.K. and Italy, have also changed their quarantine and isolation guidelines.
The new guidelines are meant to ease the strains that the omicron variant is already placing on health care and the economy.
SJBPH has seen a sharp increase in positive tests since the Christmas holiday, Jollon said.
“Part of the CDC’s rationale for the change in guidelines is the intensity of the surge,” she said.
The U.S. recorded its highest COVID-19 caseload since the beginning of the pandemic on Tuesday.
A seven-day average of more than 280,000 cases eclipsed the mark set in January 2021, according to NPR.