Women standing behind window wearing a mask

CDC updates and shortens recommended isolation and quarantine period for COVID-19

The change is motivated by science showing that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.

New research shows that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness and that people who contract COVID-19 are most contagious for the 1-2 days before symptoms appear and 2-3 days after. 

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Therefore, the CDC is now recommending that people who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimize the risk of infecting others.

The CDC has also updated the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19. For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than two months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.