A positive COVID-19 rapid test result. Photo: Adobe Stock

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shortened its recommended isolation time for asymptomatic people who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to 5 days, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.

The CDC also said asymptomatic people who have been exposed to COVID-19 who are fully vaccinated and have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

The revised recommendations reflect research showing that the majority of virus transmission generally occurs in the 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms and in the 2-3 days after the onset of symptoms, the CDC said in a press release yesterday.

“Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others,” the CDC said in the release.

For people who are exposed to COVID-19 but are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than two months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days.

“If a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure,” the CDC said.

For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for the virus at day five after exposure.

If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

Last week, the CDC recommended shortening the isolation period for 10 to 5 days for health care workers.

The New York State Department of Health on Friday implemented a five-day isolation period for health care workers as well as other members of the “critical workforce.”

CDC’s revised guidance issued yesterday shortens the time for everyone who is asymptomatic after testing positive, as long as they wear a well-fitting mask, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement last night.

“This is a critical step to support our small businesses, critical industries, and essential services as we get through this new variant,” Hochul said.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said yesterday the CDC’s updated guidance for isolation and quarantine “balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses.”

The updates to the agency’s guidance “ensure people can safely continue their daily lives,” Walensky said.

“Prevention is our best option,” Walensky said, urging people to get vaccinated, get boosted and wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission. She also urged people to take a test before gathering with others.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.