Shorter COVID-19 quarantine gives schools, workplaces options

State and local county health officials have approved shorter quarantine options for people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

A document released by the Ohio Department of Health still recommends a full 14-day quarantine for “the lowest risk of post-quarantine transmission,” and says the 14-day approach is preferred for anyone linked to a “high-density workplace,” nursing home or other “congregate living facility.”

But local and state health officials have approved versions of the seven- and 10-day models put out last week by the CDC. Health officials in Montgomery, Clark, Greene, Warren and Miami counties have all posted documents to that effect in recent days.

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The first newly approved approach is for a person to quarantine for seven days after exposure. The person could end quarantine on Day 8 if they had experienced no symptoms and gotten a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken at least five days after the last exposure.

The CDC estimates “post-quarantine transmission risk” of about 5% in that model, with an “upper limit” of about 12%.

The other new approach simply cuts quarantine shorter, from 14 days to 10 days after exposure, as long as the person has experienced no symptoms during their daily monitoring. No COVID test is required, and “post-quarantine transmission risk” is estimated to be about 1% with an upper limit of about 10%.

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Regardless of approach, ODH officials urge people who quarantined to continue monitoring themselves for any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) through Day 14, in case of late onset. That includes taking their temperature twice a day.

Health officials define “close contact” exposure two ways — either being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, regardless of masking, or having “direct physical contact” with that person, which in addition to regular contact can include sharing utensils with them, or being near when they sneeze or cough.

People quarantining are to remain home and maintain at least six feet of distance from other people, even inside their homes, and to wear a mask when near other people at all, according to the CDC.

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Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County released a very detailed document on quarantine procedures, adding that quarantined people should not allow visitors in their homes, should not make contact with people at their front door, should use a separate bathroom from others in the house if possible and should not prepare or serve food to others.

Public Health said if medical care is needed, a quarantining person should call the doctor or hospital first and tell them about the quarantine so they can be prepared.

Some area schools like Springboro and Mason in Warren County have adopted the quarantine options for students.

On Tuesday, Springboro Superintendent Larry Hook notified parents of the change reducing by four days the quarantine time period for persons exposed to COVID-19.

“This is based on local circumstances and available resources. In both of these updated options, the individual would have to be symptom-free, before returning from quarantine,” Hook said.

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