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RBC | Fourteen days of vacation at the beach whizzes by at warp speed, but enduring 14 days of stay-at-home quarantine due to COVID is almost as much fun as watching paint dry. Quarantines are one of the oldest and simplest tools for slowing the spread of contagious disease, but determining the ideal length of a quarantine is not an exact science when it comes to new viruses.
Some viruses, like measles, are highly contagious just prior to the onset of symptoms. Others are most contagious several days after symptoms appear. Still others are spread by asymptomatic carriers. It’s believed COVID-19 has all those hallmarks, prompting the 14-day recommended quarantine from the time of known exposure to a person who has tested positive.
In the last few weeks, the Centers for Disease Control have updated their recommendations, allowing in some cases for the quarantine period to be shortened to 10 days, or even 7 days if testing is available.
The following guidelines are listed in the letter sent to those who have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case and warrant quarantine by public health.
- Avoid public places for 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person or the date that they tested positive if you live in the same household.
- Do not travel by airplane, ship, long-distance bus, or train.
- Any other travel should be coordinated with public health.
- Do not use public transportation, such as light rail, bus, or taxi.
- Remain in the location that has been designated for your quarantine.
- Do not go to work. Working from a home-based office is permitted.
- Do not go to school, grocery stores or other public places.
- If you do not have respiratory symptoms, you may enjoy Colorado’s vast outdoors while maintaining 6 foot distance from any other individual and wear your face covering.
- For everyone who has been in close contact to someone with COVID-19, a 14-day quarantine is the gold standard. All contacts should monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 daily following exposure. For some populations, including people who live in a congregate and/or residential care setting (long-term care facilities, prisons, homeless shelters, etc), quarantine generally should not be shortened from 14 days without public health consultation.
- For contacts who have monitored themselves daily and have not had any symptoms of COVID-19, quarantine can end after 10 days. They should continue to monitor themselves daily for symptoms for the full 14 days following exposure.
- For contacts who have monitored themselves daily for symptoms, have not had any symptoms of COVID-19, and have tested negative on a test collected within 48 hours before quarantine is discontinued (provided sufficient testing is available), quarantine can end after 7 days. They should continue to monitor themselves daily for symptoms for the full 14 days.
- In no circumstances can quarantine be discontinued before 7 days have passed since exposure.
- Regardless of whether someone is released from quarantine early, if they develop any symptoms of COVID-19 illness in the 14 days following their exposure, they must isolate immediately and notify public health.
- Monitor your health for fever, cough, or shortness of breath for 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person.
- Notify Rio Blanco County Department of Public Health, 970-878-9520, if you develop fever (temperature greater than 38.0 degrees Celsius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste/smell, chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, runny nose, nausea/vomiting). If you are unable to reach anyone at the above-listed number, please contact CDPHE at 303-692-2700 business hours or at 303-370-9395 after hours.
- Prior to seeking any medical attention in an office, clinic, or hospital, you must call and inform your healthcare providers that you are under active monitoring for potential exposure to COVID-19. You should also contact Rio Blanco County Department of Public Health, 970-878-9520, who will inform you of precautions you must take to protect against infecting others at the time you are seeking medical attention. If you are unable to reach anyone at the above-listed number, please contact CDPHE at 303-692-2700 or at 303-370-9395. If your condition requires calling 911, you must also inform the 911 operator that you are under active monitoring for potential exposure to COVID-19.
- After 10 days from the last day you were in close contact with the sick person, you may resume all normal activities as long as no new symptoms appear.