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During a briefing from the COVID-19 response team on Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explained the new guidance for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been exposed to the virus.
DR. WALENSKY: Let me walk you through exactly what these new recommendations mean for you. First, isolation refers to what you do when you have COVID-19, most likely diagnosed by a positive test. Isolation prevents those who are known to be infected from transmitting the virus to others.
Quarantine, on the other hand, is different. This is what you do when you've been exposed to someone who has disease and are unsure if you, yourself were infected. Quarantine prevents further spread of the virus in the time before someone may develop symptoms or from those who are asymptomatic from their infection.
If you are infected with sars-cov-2, regardless of your vaccination status, you should isolate for five days. During periods of isolation, it's best for you to wear a mask around those in your household to avoid spreading the virus at home. After five days if you're asymptomatic, or if your symptoms have largely resolved, you may leave isolation as long as you continue to wear a mask around others, even in the home for an additional five days.
For those who have been exposed to COVID-19, quarantine recommendations are based on your vaccination status. If you were boosted or have been vaccinated with your Pfizer or Moderna series in the past six months, or your J&J shot in the past two months, no quarantine is needed.
However, a mask must be worn for 10 days following your known exposure. And we also recommend getting a test on day five after your exposure. If you're not vaccinated or you are vaccinated with your Pfizer or Moderna series over six months ago, or with J&J over two months ago, and have not yet received your booster, you should quarantine for five days following your last exposure.
After five days, you should continue masking around others for an additional five days, and you should also get a test at day five. If it's not possible for you to quarantine, it is really important that you do the right thing and wear a mask at all times around others for 10 days after your exposure.
Here, we also emphasize that you should get a test at day five. And if at any point you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during your quarantine period, or you're 10 days after exposure, like fevers, runny nose, a cough, headaches, or body aches, you should get a test and isolate until your test results return. And, of course, then isolate if your test returns positive.