Updated CDC guide says self-isolate for 10 days after positive COVID-19 test

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance on self-isolation for people who test positive for COVID-19.

According to the new guidelines, people who are symptomatic with COVID-19 should isolate at home for 10 days after symptoms begin and for 24 hours after your fever has broken.

“A limited number of persons with severe illness” and those who are severely immunocompromised may need to isolate for 20 days after symptom onset, the agency said.

Asymptomatic patients should isolate for 10 days from the date of their first positive test.

The new guidelines were previewed last week, when officials said the CDC would recommend people do not need to have two negative tests in order to end isolation, which was the previous standard.

The update comes as the U.S. testing system is strained to the brink due to the rampant surges of coronavirus cases in dozens of states across the country. Results can take as long as two weeks to return, which makes the tests effectively useless. 

However, Brett Giroir, the administration’s testing czar, said last week that the guidance is not being issued as a way to prevent test shortages. 

According to the CDC, multiple studies have found evidence that recovered patients will continue to “shed” viral RNA for up to three months, but none have shown those patients can transmit the virus to others.

“These findings strengthen the justification for relying on a symptom based, rather than test-based strategy for ending isolation of these patients, so that persons who are by current evidence no longer infectious are not kept unnecessarily isolated and excluded from work or other responsibilities,” the agency said in the guidance.

Isolation rules are for people who test positive. The CDC continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine period for people who have been in contact with an infected person but don’t have a confirmed infection. 

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