CDC Shortens Recommended Quarantine Period

CDC Shortens Recommended Quarantine Period

Seren Park, Co-Editor-in-Chief

On December 2nd, health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) effectively shortened the quarantine period for people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus from the initial 14 days to 7 days if they are getting tested and 10 days if they are not getting tested. Based on studies and modeling data, this decision is meant to hopefully improve compliance among citizens and decrease the economic or psychological burden that comes from long periods of isolation, especially during the holiday season.

All travelers, both domestic and international, should get tested for the virus one to three days before their trip, and once more three to five days after their return. Furthermore, they should refrain from nonessential activities for at least seven days if a negative test result is obtained, and ten days if not. Either P.C.R. or rapid antigen tests can be used, and they should be taken within 48 hours at the end of the quarantine period. Travelers should still be cautious of symptoms for the full 14-day period, which is still the most ideal way to prevent the spread of infections. 

Exact quarantine requirements still vary from state to state, as the recommendations have been shared by federal officials with state and county public health agencies, who make their own decisions based on the region. Some European countries have already implemented shortened quarantine periods, such as France and Belgium’s 7-day quarantine periods since Germany’s 10-day quarantine period.

While the shortened quarantine periods may encourage compliance, they also raise doubts about their effectiveness. Daria Levy (’23) travelled to Israel, where she and her family stayed in quarantine for 12 days instead of the initial 14 days by testing negative for the coronavirus twice. The government took her phone number and address of her quarantine location in order to track her phone, call it at any time, or visit the address, thus enforcing the quarantine. Those who are caught breaking quarantine are fined about $3,000. Now, Israel’s quarantine can be shortened by two more days, making the quarantine period ten days. Levy said, “If the government keeps shortening the quarantine period, it becomes a danger to the rest of the population. It even made my family and I feel a bit guilty because we had believed that there was a reason the Israeli government made the switch from 14 to 12 days, but if it continuously decreases the number of days in such a short time span, it only demonstrates that [the government] isn’t thoroughly researching the matter and sends the message that 14-day quarantine periods are unnecessary.”

As the number of coronavirus cases nationwide are spiraling, the CDC and top scientists have warned that people should refrain from holiday travel and instead stay at home. It is important to keep in mind the safety of not only yourself but also the people around you during this time.