Watch CBS News

Do I Need To Quarantine? How Long Should I Stay Isolated?: Health Experts Break Down CDC's Latest COVID Guidelines

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With COVID guidelines constantly changing, experts are trying to unmask the confusion.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge spoke to health experts and patients still figuring out the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

Kelsey Perkins tested positive right before the holidays.

"I actually was supposed to fly to Michigan the day after I got the positive test to go see family, so I was super, super upset. I had to miss Christmas," she said.

Then, eight days into her quarantine, the CDC changed the guidelines from 10 days to five.

"I've literally been sitting here for eight days. I could have been free three days ago. But then I think there was a little bit of confusion. My mom was saying, oh, that's only if you don't have symptoms," Perkins said.

Perkins and millions of Americans are scratching their heads over the constantly evolving protocols.

"Not only is it more confusing for patients, but it's actually even more confusing for health care workers like doctors and nurses," allergist and immunologist Dr. Purvi Parikh said.


Parikh helped us break down what to do in various scenarios.

If you are exposed to someone with COVID, but you are fully vaccinated with a booster and have no symptoms, then there's no need to quarantine.

"Depending on the degree of the exposure, so if it's somebody that you're living with, an immediate family member, close contact, you can either wait to see if you develop symptoms or get tested. But if it's a very brief contact ... someone you pass on the street, you likely don't have to be tested or quarantined," Parikh said.

If you are exposed and you're unvaccinated or vaccinated but not boosted, the CDC advises five days of quarantine or 10 days with a mask if you must go out.

If you test positive but have no symptoms, isolate five days, then mask five more.

But if you test positive and have symptoms, isolate five days at least. If your symptoms clear up, you can leave your home with a mask.

"Err on the side of caution. If you're not sure, stay home until you're tested, until you have further guidance from your doctor," Parikh said.


The CDC says the changes are based on data that shows the majority of transmission occurs two days before symptoms begin and three days after.

But you also have to check with your employer about its rules.

"To get corporations and small business up to speed is a whole other challenge," said employment business attorney Andrew Lieb. "What we need is the top down clarity because laws can be very good or very bad, but when they're ambiguous, they're always bad."

Still, many businesses, like airlines, hope this new guidance will help with staffing shortages.

CDC officials hope shortening quarantine time will encourage people growing tired of those long lockdowns to do the right thing and stay inside five days when they're most infectious.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.