TAMPA, Fla. - It was the question scientists were adamant to answer when they first learned of COVID-19 - If someone is exposed, when does their body replicate the virus?
Nine months and many studies later, new guidance will change the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s rules on quarantine.
They say a quarantine can end after 10 days if the person does not develop any symptoms. It can end at seven days after exposure if a person doesn’t have symptoms and tests negative for the virus.
“I think it’s really important to balance what’s practical for people together with the actual optimal thing,” said USF Health’s Dr. Thomas Unnasch. “Optimally everyone would probably quarantine for 14 days, but that’s tying a lot of people up who are probably not really infectious.
Businesses owners like John Horne, who owns a restaurant on Anna Maria Island, knows that first-hand. Horne had to send his restaurant’s kitchen manager home for days because he may have been exposed through his child.
“If you do have to put someone on a furlough for quarantine, ten days obviously, if that’s a safe period, we’re glad to work with it,” he said. “Obviously it can help people get back to work, and that’s the whole key.”
Dr. Unnasch says it’s also beneficial to the healthcare industry.
“We have a real problem right now with health care professionals who have been exposed to, or think they are infected and might be quarantining for the whole 14 days, and if you can reduce that to seven, that’s going to increase the number of people who can help those turning up in the hospitals in increasing numbers.
If you want to be perfect, the CDC says, it won’t object to sticking with 14 days.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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