The Pennsylvania Department of Health notified health care providers that, effective immediately, it has aligned its quarantine guidance for people exposed to COVID-19 with the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced earlier this week that provides an option for a 10-day quarantine without testing or a seven-day quarantine with a negative test on or after day-five of quarantine.
This guidance does not apply to health care settings or those living in certain congregate settings such as nursing homes or prisons.
“We must stop the spread of this virus and quarantining once you have been exposed is essential,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “The incubation period for COVID-19 remains at 14 days and it is still most protective to quarantine for the full two weeks. However, the CDC has affirmed that quarantine can end after 10 days if the person doesn’t develop symptoms, or after seven days if the person tests negative and has no symptoms.”
The department issued a Health Alert Network advisory today for health care providers outlining how to implement the new quarantine guidance. Quarantine may not be shortened to less than seven days. CDC recommends that people who have been exposed monitor their symptoms for the full 14-days after their last exposure.
The recommendation for a 14-day quarantine was based on the incubation period of the virus. CDC’s intention with the option to shorten quarantine is to gain better compliance with quarantine and contact tracing activities.
“If you have been identified as a close contact to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, are in quarantine and have no symptoms, you may get a test as soon as your fifth day of quarantine. If the results are negative you may end your quarantine after the seventh day of quarantine,” Dr. Levine said. “However, you will need to wait for a negative test result to stop quarantining. Providers should know that people seeking tests who are symptomatic should be placed above those seeking tests to shorten their quarantine.”
This recommendation also applies to all quarantine orders, including the travel orders issued on Nov. 25 by Dr. Levine.
Dr. Levine stressed that this does not change the need for Pennsylvanians to continue to wear masks, wash hands, avoid all gatherings and social distance. These efforts must continue to stop the spread of COVID-19.