JACKSON — The Jackson County Health Department (JCHD) applies guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to accomplish its local infectious disease control efforts.

The CDC has made an important announcement recently containing updated guidance on “isolation and quarantine” durations. The JCHD will be now be using these new rules in its COVID-19 investigations and encourages all businesses, organizations and individuals to follow these recommendations, as well.

“Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others,” stated Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston. “The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”

Aston said, “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.”

Additionally, CDC is updating the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19. For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 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.

“Alternatively, 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,” explained Aston. “Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.”

Aston added, “For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.”

Isolation, according to Aston, relates to behavior after a confirmed infection. Isolation for 5 days followed by wearing a well-fitting mask will minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others. Quarantine refers to the time following exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.

“Isolation for 5 days followed by wearing a well-fitting mask will minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others,” said Aston. “Both updates come as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S. and reflects the current science on when and for how long a person is maximally infectious.”

Updated COVID-19 instructions are now:

Isolation: if you are sick and think you have COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19:

- Everyone, regardless of vaccination status should stay home until after at least 5 days since symptoms first appeared

- If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house

- Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days

- If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves

Quarantine: If you are fully vaccinated and think or know you have been exposed (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) to someone who has COVID:

- Wear a mask around others for 10 days

- Test on day 5, if possible

- If you develop symptoms, stay home and arrange to get tested if possible

Quarantine: If you are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated and think or know you have been exposed (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) to someone who has COVID:

- Stay home for 5 days. After that continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days

- If you can’t quarantine you should wear a mask for 10 days

- Test on day 5, if possible

Aston noted that “fully vaccinated” means you have completed the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine series (two doses) within the last six months or the J&J vaccine within the last two months or have completed a full vaccine series and have received a COVID booster shot.

Other questions that remain can be directed to contact tracers by calling the JCHD during business hours (740-286-5094) and dialing either extension 2833 for Pat or 2825 for Tomi.

In addition, the JCHD wishes to make the community aware that we may be facing a shortage of COVID-19 rapid test kits due to a statewide and potential national shortage of these supplies.

“This lack of availability of testing supplies resulting from their very high demand means that they may not be able to be used along with the other guidance provided above,” stated Aston. “This may also make it difficult for employees to opt to test weekly for COVID instead of getting fully vaccinated at places of employment that require either testing or showing proof of immunization.”

Aston said, “Following public health guidance will help reduce the spread of the virus and keep people out of the hospital. The most important decision you can make to reduce the spread of the virus, not to mention protect yourself, is to get fully vaccinated.”

The JCHD is offering expanded hours of operation on the third Thursday of each month, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., in order to accommodate anyone who wishes to be vaccinated but cannot come to the health department during its regular 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours. Call the JCHD at 740-286-5094 to schedule a vaccination appointment or if you have any questions about isolation and quarantine.

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