What you need to know on new COVID isolation guidelines

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 9:36 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Some COVID guidelines are changing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just updated how long you should isolate if you test positive. We’re looking at those changes and what you need to know.

The new guidelines come down to understanding the difference between isolation and quarantine.

“And they’re already saying it’s not just the number of days -- and I like this part -- it’s not just the number of days but the symptoms have to improve,” said Dr. Rodger MacArthur, professor of medicine in the division of Infectious Diseases Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Isolation is for anyone who’s tested positive. You should stay away from everyone in isolation for at least five days. Stay home for as long as symptoms last. Once they’re gone, you can return to normal activities with caution and must wear a mask everywhere for five more days.

Quarantine is for anyone who’s come in contact with someone positive.

But here’s a big difference: If you’ve gotten your booster shot, the CDC says you can skip quarantine if you wear a mask. Everyone else, make sure you’re wearing your mask around others in quarantine for five days and get tested. Depending on your results and symptoms, you must wear a mask for the next five days.

“We need to take precautions and understand that the virus hasn’t gone it away. It started to go away and then we have omicron,” said MacArthur.

Symptoms of the omicron variant of coronavirus tend to develop sooner, so the risk of infection is not as high for as long.

“We’re getting better at coexisting with the virus, and maybe, just maybe, the virus is getting better at coexisting with us, becoming less virulent, less deadly,” he said.

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