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CDC Considering Change In Guidance, Signaling Shorter Coronavirus Quarantines Might Be Coming

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The CDC is considering a change in guidance, signaling shorter quarantines might be ahead.

"Can we shorten that from maybe 14 days to 10 to 11 days or seven to 10 days?" says Dr. Nitin Bhanot of Allegheny Health Network Infectious Diseases.

The current recommendation is 14 days of isolation after the last contact with someone known to have COVID-19. The CDC may shift this down to seven to 10 days for people who test negative.

This is based on patterns of illness. At four to five days, half the people with COVID-19 will develop symptoms. At 11 to 12 days?

"Ninety-seven to 98 percent will have developed the infection. Then you're left with two percent of people who might develop symptoms after 11 days or 12 days," says Dr. Bhanot.

But this could be the big hang-up, recommending a shorter period of isolation.

"You might say, well, that two percent number is not that big. Well, if you see the number of cases of COVID, that two percent could be a big number," the doctor said. "They don't want to risk that one or two percent who might still get the infection."

It could help, though, in relieving worry.

"Seven days have passed, 10 days have passed, I have not developed an infection. Then they can at least feel at ease. So from an individual standpoint, the level of anxiety will drop down," Dr. Bhanot said.

And it could help get health care workers back to work sooner, ease patient groupings in nursing homes and make isolating at home more bearable.

"Even a day off social isolation that is quarantine can make a big difference in people's lives," Dr. Bhanot says.

The move may also help contact tracing efforts. Some people aren't cooperating because they don't want a prolonged separation from their routines.

"People who want to comply and adhere to the quarantine, current quarantine period of 14 days will do it regardless. And those who don't want to do it at all may not even do it when it's seven days," says Dr. Bhanot.

"If it was not an issue with contact tracing, possible shortage in health care personnel, then they might have not considered this. I feel they might be doing it just to make sure they're meeting the other ends," he added.

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