COVID-Positive or Exposed? What to Do Next

Dec 29, 2021 – With new COVID-19 cases rising to more than 240,000 per day recently in the United States, many people are facing the same situation: A family member or friend has tested positive or someone has been exposed to it, and on After days or hours of gathering, visiting, or returning to work. What now?

New guidance issued Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortens the recommended isolation and quarantine period for the general population, after the agency shortened the isolation period for health care workers.

WebMD reached out to two infectious disease specialists to get answers to frequently asked questions in these situations.

If you test positive for COVID, what do you do next?

“If the test result is positive, you are infected. At the moment, you are infected [either] Offit, MD, director of the Vaccine Education Center and professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: At this point, you need 5 days of isolation, according to new CDC guidelines. (This period has been shortened from 10 days to 5 days).

Isolation means separating the injured from others. Quarantine refers to the things you should do if you are exposed to the virus or have close contact with the COVID virus.

Under the new CDC guidelines, after 5 days of isolation, if an infected person does not show any symptoms, they can leave the isolation and then wear a mask for 5 days.

Amesh Adalja, MD, a senior physician at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says those who have tested positive for the virus also need to tell close acquaintances they are positive.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the change to a short quarantine time is spurred by science’ indicating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the disease course, generally in the 1-2 days before the onset of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Symptoms and the day after 2-3 “.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID, what do you do next?

“If they are vaccinated and boosted, the guidance says there is no need to quarantine,” Adalja says. But CDC guidelines recommend these people wear an appropriate mask at all times when they are around others for 10 days after exposure.

For anyone else, including unvaccinated people and those over 6 months of a second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose, or more than 2 months of a J&J dose, the CDC recommends a 5-day quarantine — and wearing a 5-day mask after that.

On a practical level, Adalja says he believes those who have been vaccinated but not boosted can also skip quarantine and wear a mask for 10 days. Offit agrees. With many exposed people having trouble quarantining, Offit advises those exposed who cannot follow this guidance to make sure they wear a mask for 10 days indoors. CDC guidelines also offer this as another strategy — that if a 5-day quarantine is not possible, an exposed person should wear a mask for 10 days when around others.

But if someone who has been infected develops symptoms, they then fall into the infected category and follow that guidance, Offit says.

When should a person be screened?

After exposure, “you should probably wait two to three days,” Offit says. “The virus has to reproduce itself.”

Adalja says the test should be done by those who have been exposed to it at least once.

“But there is data to support daily testing to guide their activities, but that’s not a CDC guidance. Home testing is sufficient for this.”

At what stage can the patient safely mingle with others?

“Technically, if it’s asymptomatic, 10 days without the mask, 5 days with the mask,” Adalja says. “I think this could also be guided by the fact that home test negativity is a measure [as to whether to mingle]. “


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