N95 mask

A mask worn during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(The Center Square) – The state’s Division of Public Health is implementing new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isolation and quarantine protocols while maintaining contact tracing efforts as COVID-19 cases rise in the state.

In a news release, the division said it is shortening the time an individual with COVID-19 must quarantine to five days based on certain conditions and vaccination status. The division said the change stems from information that the majority of the transmission of the virus occurs shortly after infection and 2-3 days following the onset of symptoms.

According to the release, individuals who test positive are to isolate for five days and if they are not showing symptoms, they may leave isolation as long as they continue to wear a mask for five days in an effort to mitigate spread.

“We know this sudden change in isolation and quarantine guidance will take time for everyone to review, understand and implement,” Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said in the release. “But we want to follow the science and what it’s telling us is that people are mostly infectious earlier in their exposure and longer periods of isolation and quarantine are not necessary. We also want to prepare folks that because it will take our contact tracers a few weeks to implement this change in our system, that people may receive conflicting guidance. But we believe it’s important to empower individuals, employers and schools to make the isolation and quarantine changes themselves, providing they understand the conditions attached to the CDC’s guidance.”

According to the release, the new CDC guidelines include those who test positive but don’t have symptoms. The isolation period is now five days as long as the person wears a mask around others, whether at home or in an office, for at least five more days. If the person is showing a fever, they are to remain isolated until it diminishes.

For those who have close contact and are unvaccinated, or it has been six months from the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, or two months from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, without a booster, they are to quarantine for five days and use a mask for five days following the quarantine. For close contacts who have received a booster shot, or six months from being fully vaccinated via the Pfizer and Moderna, or two months from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they must mask for five additional days after a five-day quarantine, the release reads.

For those close contacts from people with a vaccine, no quarantine is needed, but a mask should be worn for 10 days following the contact. For those vaccinated close contacts who have not received a booster, including students younger than 16, no quarantine is needed.

The CDC, according to the release, is encouraging anyone exposed to COVID-19 to test at day five following exposure, and if symptoms occur, they should quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not related to the virus.

“The most important thing that Delawareans can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and to get their booster if they are eligible,” Dr. Rattay said.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.