CDC cuts COVID-19 quarantine period, it’s now 7 to 10 days


Doctor in protective gloves & workwear holding open test tube and taking out sampling swab for novel Covid-19 test in laboratory.

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests quarantine periods can be shorter than 14 days for someone exposed to COVID-19, said CDC’s COVID-19 Incident Manager Dr. Henry Walke during a telebriefing on Wednesday, December 2.

Fourteen days of quarantine is best, but 10- and seven-days work, too, according to the CDC.

A person can go back to normal activity after 10 days if they were in contact with an infected person, or seven days if they test negative for the virus, said Dr. Walke.

The CDC based the recommendation using several models from public health centers.

This new guidance is an effort for more people to comply with a shorter quarantine time compared to 14 days, according to the CDC, and comes at a time when traveling increases due to the holidays.

Highway digital signs display messages about stay home and avoiding travel during an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Los Angeles, California, March 25, 2020.

While safely reducing the life of the quarantine, there is a risk level of leaving early, according to CDC’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Brooks. Ending at 10 days without a negative test = 1% to 12% risk of spreading the virus. Ending at seven days with a negative test = 5% risk of spreading the virus.

Again, the quarantine recommended guidelines are for those who were in close contact with a COVID-19 patient(s).


  • Within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more.
  • Next to an infected person for more than a 24-hour period, starting from two days before their illness until the time the patient is isolated.​


  • Get tested one to three days before traveling
  • Get tested three to five days after traveling
  • Avoid non-essential activities for seven days
  • If possible postpone holiday travel

“Testing does not stop all risk, but doing this can make travel safer,” said the CDC during the briefing.

The concept of the spread of coronavirus in the world. Closing air traffic between countries.

Depending on the type of test the person receives — antigen or PCR — a person may test up to 48 hours prior to completing their quarantine of seven or 10 days. The person must receive a negative test result.

While COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to increase the CDC hopes to “bend the curve softly.” The agency believes if more people can accept a guideline with fewer quarantine days then more people will comply and work better with contact tracers.

The initial 14-day quarantine recommendation made was before testing was widely available, according to the CDC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has the pandemic listed in four phases:

  • Phase 1: no cases
  • Phase 2: one or more cases, imported or locally detected
  • Phase 3: case cluster in time, geographic location, and/or by common exposure
  • Phase 4: larger outbreaks of local transmission

Arkansas, along with most states in the U.S., appears to be in WHO’s Phase 3/4. Currently, there are more than 20,000 probable and 12,400 confirmed active cases. More than 2,500 deaths, this includes probable, have been reported since the start of the pandemic in mid-March, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

Globally there are 64.1 million COVID-19 cases, and nearly 14 million are in the U.S. More than 1.4 million people have died around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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