DHEC aligns quarantine guidance with CDC

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 10:07 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 1:05 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has updated its quarantine and isolation guidance to align with the Centers for Disease Control’s recent announcement.

DHEC’s guidance is reflective of the changes that the CDC recommended on Monday.

Below are DHEC’s recommendations:

If You Tested Positive (Isolation): If you test positive for COVID-19, you need to isolate regardless of your vaccination status:

  • Stay home and avoid in-person contact with others for at least 5 days
  • If you have no symptoms after Day 5, you can end isolation but must wear a mask around others for 5 more days

If You Were Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (Quarantine):

  • If you have received the vaccine doses you’re eligible for (completed initial vaccination series and booster for ages 16 and up, or completed initial vaccination series for ages 5-15), you don’t have to quarantine. DHEC recommends you get tested on Day 5 and wear a mask around others for 10 days.
  • Individuals are eligible for a booster six months after completing their Pfizer or Moderna vaccination series, or two months after their single-dose of Janssen.
  • If you are not vaccinated or you have completed your primary vaccination series and are booster eligible, but haven’t gotten a booster, you need to quarantine for 5 days. We recommend you get tested on Day 5 and wear a mask around others for 5 more days.
  • If you develop symptoms, stay home and get tested
  • There are contingency options specifically for workers in health care facilities when there are staffing shortages. Exposed workers who have not received the vaccine, including a booster when eligible may wear a mask for 10 days if quarantine is not feasible with maintaining patient care, so long as they test negative and have no symptoms. This should be a last resort option, however, when staffing is not available any other way.

The CDC announced Monday that it was shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days to 5 days, given what it knows about COVID-19 and the omicron variant.

The announcement said in part:

People with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter. 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.

More on the CDC’s guidance changes, including exposure for vaccinated people, can be found here.

DHEC also said it agrees with the CDC’s test to stay guidance but is worried about the availability of at-home tests, staff capability to administer tests and equity among districts. DHEC says it will work with schools to make rapid testing as available as possible.

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