CDC Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines 12.27.21

Once again, things are changing! On Monday 12/27/21, without much warning, the CDC in Atlanta updated its Isolation and Quarantine guidelines for people who have tested positive for Covid and for people who have been exposed to Covid. I’ll outline the recommendations below and also share a few of my thoughts regarding these new guidelines.

Updated recommendations

First: If you test positive for Covid stay home for Days 1-5 regardless of your vaccination status. On Day 6:

If you have no symptoms, or your symptoms are resolving, you can leave your house but you must wear a mask around others for Days 6-10.

If you have a fever, or your symptoms are not improving, continue to stay at home on Days 6-10 until your fever ends and/or your symptoms are resolving.

Second: If you are exposed to someone with Covid-19, the CDC separates the recommendations into 2 groups:

Group #1 includes people who have completed:

  • The primary two-dose series of Covid vaccines and have been boosted.
  • The primary two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines within the last 6 months.
  • The primary one-dose series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months.

If exposed to Covid, those in Group #1 are directed to:

  • Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
  • Test on Day 5 if possible.
  • If you develop symptoms: Get a test and stay home.

Group #2 includes people who:

  • Completed the primary two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines over 6 months ago and are not boosted.
  • Completed the primary one-dose series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted.
  • Are unvaccinated.

If exposed to Covid, those in Group # 2 are directed to:

  • Stay home for 5 days. After that continue to wear a mask around others for Days 6-10.
  • If you can’t quarantine, wear a mask for Days 1-10.
  • Test on Day 5 if possible.
  • If you develop symptoms: Get a test and stay home.

A few concerns

Those are the recommendations, and they are brief. The CDC stated that the shortening of the Isolation and Quarantine time periods is based on the “science demonstrating that the majority of SAR-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.” These findings do not surprise me. It is only the rapidness of the change in recommendations that is somewhat surprising.

Additionally, I am hoping that more information will soon be forthcoming regarding a few issues not yet addressed:

  • Guidelines for people who have had Covid, either before vaccines were available or after being vaccinated. It has been suggested previously that they have greater immunity than those in Group #1, but this is not specifically mentioned in the new directives.
  • More data on the contagiousness of people who are fully vaccinated and boosted.
  • A more precise definition of when Day 1 begins – at the date of the test or with the onset of symptoms?
  • More explanation of what ‘symptoms resolving’ – the criteria for people with Covid stopping isolation on Day 6 – means. We’ve seen people experience a variety of symptoms that do not all start and stop/resolve at the same time, e.g. headaches, loss of the sense of smell or taste, achiness, fatigue.

Please know that my intent with this email is not to raise concerns, but provide you with a clear and reassuring update. For now, I would encourage you to follow the new guidelines as best you can. When additional information is communicated by the CDC, I will share that with you promptly. A vital part of our mission here at Larew Internal Medicine is to keep you informed about important and relevant health issues in a timely way.

Office Update

We are offering same-day Covid testing with our Abbott equipment, and have been performing 5 to 8 tests daily. If you are ill and want a Covid test, please call the office and we will schedule a time. When you arrive, please stay in your car, call the office number, roll down your window and a staff member will come out to your car and do the nasal swab as you remain seated. You’ll receive a call from us with your results within one hour.

And to end on a sincere and upbeat note, I’m pleased to report that we are growing! I’m truly grateful that our doors have always remained open in the last two years even as more than 20,000 medical offices across the country have closed as a result of the pandemic. We look forward to continuing to enhance our patients’ health and longevity with improved and expanded services, and as always, the most personalized attention and care.

We wish you and your family a joyous and healthy holiday season.


Dr. Rick Larew and the staff of Larew Internal Medicine

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