CDC Updates Quarantine Guidance

The window is reduced to 10 days with no COVID-19 test if the person doesn’t have symptoms.

December 04, 2020

WASHINGTON—This week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its quarantine guidance.

“Since the start of the pandemic, CDC has recommended that those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days after exposure,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the incident manager for CDC’s COVID-19 response. He added that after reviewing and analyzing new research and modeling data, CDC has identified two acceptable alternative quarantine periods: “Under these options, quarantine can end after 10 days without a COVID-19 test if the person has reported no symptoms or after seven days with a negative test result if the person has reported no symptoms.”

The CDC notes that reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to quarantine by reducing economic hardship if they cannot work during this time. In addition, a shorter quarantine period can lessen stress on the public health system, especially when new infections are rapidly rising.

The CDC now recommends two additional options for how long quarantine should last. Based on local availability of viral testing, for people without symptoms quarantine can end:

  • On day 10 without testing
  • On day 7 after receiving a negative test result
After stopping quarantine, people should:
  • Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
  • If they have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health authority or health-care provider.
  • Wear a face mask, stay at least six feet from others, wash hands, avoid crowds, and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Everyone should follow the specific guidance from their local public health authorities about how long they should quarantine,” said Dr. Walke. “People should still watch for symptoms during quarantine for a full 14 days after exposure, especially if quarantine is discontinued early.”

As the winter holidays approach, the CDC recommends that the best way for people to protect themselves and others is to postpone travel and stay home. “If you do decide to travel, CDC recommends that travelers consider getting tested one to three days before travel and then again three to five days after travel, and this should be combined with reducing nonessential activities for a full seven days after travel,” said Dr. Walke.

The CDC will continue to evaluate new information and update recommendations as needed. See Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing for guidance on options to reduce quarantine.