CDC cuts recommended COVID-19 isolation and quarantine times

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the updated recommendations "balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shortened both the recommended isolation time for people with COVID-19 and the quarantine period for those exposed to the virus. 

The isolation time for people who test positive for COVID-19 has been shortened from 10 to five days — assuming they are no longer symptomatic. Following isolation, a mask should be worn for five days when present with other people. 

“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after,” the CDC said in a press release. 

The quarantine period for people exposed to COVID-19 has also changed. 

The CDC recommends a five-day quarantine for individuals who are unvaccinated or more than six months out from a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or more than two months out from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and not yet boosted. The quarantine period should be followed by “strict mask use for an additional 5 days.”

“Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure,” the release states. “Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.”  

No quarantine is recommended for those who have received a booster shot, but they should wear a mask for days after exposure.

The new recommendations were announced Monday as the omicron variant is surging in many areas of the country. 

“The omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”

The Christian County Health Department administers COVID-19 vaccines at no charge; however, options are limited because of holiday scheduling the week between Christmas and New Year’s. 

CDC cuts recommended COVID-19 isolation and quarantine times

Jennifer P. Brown | Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is co-founder, publisher and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at She spent 30 years as a reporter and editor at the Kentucky New Era. She is a co-chair of the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society, and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.