Scarce resources may prohibit testing out of quarantine early

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- New guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have changed quarantine requirements for people exposed to the virus with the possibility of an early exit.

For anyone who has COVID-19, a 10-day isolation and being fever free for 24 hours with symptoms improving have always been the requirements to exit.

Now, for people who have been exposed and remain asymptomatic, quarantine has gone from 14 to 10 days with the possibility of testing out early after seven days – if the person tests negative after day five.

This is because emerging research has shown that the risk of contracting COVID-19 after about a week is lower than initially thought.

“The risk of someone who has not had symptoms in those first 10 days of quarantine subsequently developing COVID-19 is anywhere between one to upwards of 10 percent,” said Gillian Conrad, MPH, Communications Manager at the Berrien County Health Department.

But areas like Berrien County don’t have the resources to do additional testing for an early exit like some metropolitan cities do.

Much of that is due to the already overwhelming amount of cases the county now has.

“We don’t have enough tests nor are the turnaround times quick enough to present that as an viable option for people to get that negative test during days five and seven,” said Conrad.

But – a light at the end of the tunnel is the vaccine, and Berrien County health officials are preparing for distributions to start in just a few weeks.

“Vaccines will be delivered to local health departments and hospitals to be disseminated first and foremost to those who are at highest risk,” said Conrad. “For the vast majority of the rest of the population, it will be a couple more months.”

So that majority of people – need to be prepared for a record-high risk of contracting the virus this winter.

“There will be some individuals who have had COVID-19 and have some immunity naturally, there will be others who have received the vaccine, and then a lot of other people who have had neither and are still very much at risk for the virus,” said Conrad.

To see the CDC’s entire report, click here.

Share this article: