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Infectious Disease

Quarantine Guidance

Updated March 30, 2021

If you have been in close contact with someone who is infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, you must quarantine to prevent further spread to others.

  • Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others.
  • Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.

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How long to quarantine

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 14-day quarantine period is still the safest quarantine duration; however, based on emerging science, CDC has issued updated guidance to provide two acceptable alternatives to shorten the quarantine period.

  • If testing is available, you may be able to end your quarantine after 7 days of quarantine, on the 8th day. You can take a COVID-19 test within 48 hours prior when you hope to end your quarantine (on day 6 or 7). You must continue to quarantine until your test comes back negative, which may be longer than 7 days. Even if your test is negative and you end quarantine, you must continue to wear a mask when around others and monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days. If you develop any symptoms or your test result is positive, you must self-isolate.
  • If testing is not readily available, quarantine for a full 10 days after you were exposed. You may end your quarantine on day 11 if you do not develop symptoms. You must continue to wear a mask when around others and monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days. Self-isolate if you develop symptoms and get tested.

People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease and show no symptoms.

If you are fully vaccinated and have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine or get tested unless you have symptoms or you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home). Review the complete updated guidelines at the CDC website.

How is close contact defined?

A close contact is someone who was within 6 feet of an infectious person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over 24 hours while the person was infectious. This definition applies regardless of whether the infected person or close contacts were wearing masks.

  • The infectious period for COVID-19 starts 2 days before the patient experiences symptoms (or, for patients who show no symptoms, 2 days prior to testing) until the time the patient is isolated.
  • Example of cumulative exposure:
    Three separate 5-minute exposures (for a total of 15 minutes) over a 24-hour period.

Keeping yourself and others safe

With cases on the rise in communities across Alaska, public health contact tracers may not be able to notify all close contacts. Because of this, contact tracers are asking people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to begin informing their close contacts of their potential exposure to the virus as soon as possible. The faster people begin to quarantine, the better we can prevent further transmission. 

These resources can help you determine your close contacts and know what to say when you call:

If you are in quarantine, stay home, separate yourself from others, monitor your health and follow CDC, state and local health guidance. If you don’t have symptoms, other household members do not need to quarantine. However, no visitors should come to your home during this time. If household members need to be in the same room with person in quarantine, everyone should wear a mask and stay six feet apart. Wash hands often and frequently clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces.

What to do if someone in your household is sick

Even if you experience very mild symptoms, isolate yourself immediately, call a health care provider and get tested. Isolation separates someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 without symptoms away from others, even in their own home. If you live with others, try to stay in a specific “sick room” or area and away from other people. Use a separate bathroom, if available.

If you do experience symptoms or test positive, others in your household will need to quarantine. Their quarantine period begins on the date they last had close contact with you (before you were able to effectively isolate apart from household members). Any time a new household member gets sick with COVID-19 and others in the household have had close contact with that person, household members will need to restart their quarantine. 

If you live in a household and cannot avoid close contact with family members or roommates who have COVID-19, you should avoid contact with others outside your home while the person is sick. Your quarantine period begins when the person who has COVID-19 meets the meets the criteria to end home isolation.

Non-medical help

If you need non-medical help to successfully quarantine or isolate (e.g., groceries or other support) call 2-1-1 or 1-800-478-2221.  

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