CDC quarantine guideline changes: What do they mean?

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The CDC has reduced its 14-day quarantine guidelines it had recommended since the start of the pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in the United States this past spring, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended that anyone exposed to the coronavirus and at-risk of developing COVID-19 quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Meant to curb the spread of the virus, the practice of quarantining was vital in flattening the curve after the initial coronavirus spike in the spring.

This week, though, the CDC has revised its guidelines, now supporting a quarantine of 7 or 10 days.

Based on the updated guidelines, the CDC now says that those who have been exposed to the coronavirus but are showing no signs or symptoms of the virus can now quarantine for 10 days.

However, if someone was exposed to the virus but ultimately tests negative for COVID-19 while showing no symptoms, they can quarantine for seven days.

Supported by the CDC, the revision guidelines are based on new research and data. Additionally, public health experts believe these shorter quarantines will lead to more people adhering to the practice as well as aiding in contact tracing.


While the CDC supports the updates, the organization does still refer to them as alternatives to the full 14-day quarantine since a small risk of being infected with the virus still exists following the shortened quarantines.

After the 10-day quarantine (for those exposed to the virus but show no symptoms), there is still a 1 percent chance that person is infected.

Following the 7-day quarantine (for those exposed, show no symptoms and have tested negative), there is still a 5 percent chance of being infected.

COVID-19 symptoms

The common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Eye redness
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking from chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste and smell