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CDC considering shortening coronavirus quarantine period

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering shortening the current coronavirus quarantine timeline from 14 days to between just seven and 10, according to an exclusive Wall Street Journal report. The agency reportedly hopes the change will inspire more people to comply with the guidelines.

In a statement provided to Fox News, an agency spokesperson said no such changes had been finalized. 

“CDC is always reviewing its guidance and recommendations in the light of new understandings of the virus that causes COVID-19 and will announce such changes when appropriate,” the spokesperson said. 

Henry Walke, the agency’s incident manager for COVID-19 response, reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that the new guidelines would also include a test to ensure a person is negative for coronavirus before ending quarantine. He said that once the test is negative, the probability of the person going on to develop the infection “is pretty low.”

“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 quarantines,” he told the news outlet, in the exclusive interview.

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It was not clear what type of testing would be accepted or when it would need to occur to quantify an end to the quarantine period.

Walke told the news outlet that while there is a risk that some infections might be missed, the hope is that people “better adhere to quarantine if it was, for example, seven to 10 days.”

Currently, the CDC defines quarantine as keeping someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others, which differs from isolation. The latter is defined as keeping someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their own home.

The agency advises that those who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, excluding those who have contracted the virus within the last three months, enter a period of quarantine for 14 days after your last contact with the sick person. If possible, people who are in quarantine are advised to stay away from others, especially those who are at higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19.

“For all the following scenarios, even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should stay home (quarantine) since symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus,” the current guidelines currently state.

The scenarios referred to in the guidance include close contact with someone who has COVID-19 but no further plans to see them, living with a COVID-19-infected individual but attempting to avoid further close contact, additional close contact with an infected individual while in quarantine, and continued close contact with a COVID-19 individual in the household.

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The potential change would come amid promising news on the coronavirus vaccine front. Appearing on Fox News Tuesday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said a vaccine would become available “probably by the end of the second week in December.”

In an appearance on “The Daily Briefing,” Redfield said the vaccine will likely be distributed in a “hierarchical way,” first being administered to nursing home residents, and then health care workers and others at high risk for severe illness.

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