The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidelines Wednesday to reduce the length of quarantine when exposed to COVID-19.
However, state health officials are urging residents to take the two weeks.
“The gold standard remains to be a 14-day quarantine after any possible exposure,” said Rachel Herlihy, epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Under the CDC’s new guidance, quarantine can be shortened if the person completes 10 days without developing symptoms or if the person completes seven days without symptoms and receives a negative COVID-19 test, taken at least five days after exposure and within 48 hours of ending the quarantine.
CDPHE reminds Coloradans that 14 days is the most effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as some people do not experience symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
CDPHE also stresses that, even under the new guidelines, under no circumstances should quarantine end before seven days have passed since exposure.
Though the new quarantine guidelines are less protective, Herlihy said they could be useful for fighting COVID-19 fatigue.
“The additional quarantine options provided by CDC give the public more flexibility on quarantining,” Herlihy said, “which is sometimes necessary to sustain the response, allowing folks to do essential activities.”
However, Herlihy also emphasizes that people who choose shortened quarantines should continue to monitor themselves daily for symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and body aches. Anyone with symptoms should be tested immediately.
For those without symptoms who have been exposed, CDC and CDPHE recommend waiting at least five days after exposure to be tested because there isn’t enough viral material for the test to detect immediately following exposure.
CDPHE will update its website to explain CDC’s new guidelines in the coming days. In the meantime, officials are asking Coloradans to continue following preventative measures.
“We need everyone to do everything possible to avoid all in-person interactions with people they don’t live with, whether they’ve had a known exposure to COVID-19 or not,” Herlihy said. “The risks are too high right now with 1 in 41 Coloradans infected.”