CDC considering shorter coronavirus quarantine recommendation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering shortening the amount of time it recommends people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus quarantine in hopes of convincing more people to follow its advice.

The CDC is finalizing rules to shorten the quarantine period for a potentially exposed person from 14 days to seven to 10 days, a senior CDC official told The Wall Street Journal.

That official, Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager, said the agency would recommend that someone quarantining for the shorter period of time also receive a negative test.


“We do think that the work that we’ve done, and some of the studies we have and the modeling data that we have, shows that we can with testing shorten quarantine,” Walke told the Journal.

A CDC spokesman confirmed that the agency is considering making a change to its quarantine recommendations, though no final decisions have been made. 

“CDC is always reviewing its guidance and recommendation in the light of new understandings of the virus that causes COVID-19,” spokesman Benjamin Haynes said in an email.

Studies have showed that the coronavirus can take up to two weeks to cause illness in someone who is infected, but the vast majority of those who contract the virus and who show symptoms do so in the first four to seven days. Someone with the virus is the most contagious for the first five days after symptoms begin, according to a study published last week in The Lancet Microbe. 

The changes under consideration are a recognition by CDC researchers that fewer Americans are following their guidance, even after more than a quarter million people have died. More people are beginning to travel, especially over the Thanksgiving holiday, increasing the likelihood of spreading events at a time when more than 100,000 people are testing positive on a daily basis.