Updated COVID-19 Quarantine Guidelines Released

posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 in COVID-19

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has changed quarantine recommendations for people who have been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. These guidelines apply for businesses, schools and childcare settings.

  • Close contacts of COVID-positive cases will no longer need to quarantine for 14 days if a face covering was worn consistently and correctly by both the positive case and close contacts. The positive case must isolate for 10 after symptoms start. The close contacts should self-monitor.

  • Self-monitoring entails close monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms over the subsequent 14 days, staying home if any symptoms develop, and speaking with a healthcare provider about COVID-19 testing in the case of any illness.
  • If people who are self-monitoring become ill but do not get tested, they should remain home until 10 days after symptom onset. 

  • People currently in quarantine may be released from quarantine if a face covering was worn consistently and correctly by the positive case and close contacts during exposure. Masks must have been worn by both individuals at all times during close contact. If masks were removed during a meal or snack time and the individuals did not maintain a distance of a minimum of six feet apart, the exposed individual should be quarantined.

  • If the positive case wore a face covering, but close contacts did not, those close contacts must be quarantined.
  • If the positive case did not wear a face covering, close contacts must quarantine whether or not they wore a face covering.
  • Quarantine of close contacts will still be necessary in residential and healthcare settings. 
  • Neck gaiters pulled over faces, scarves and face shields are not as effective as masks in preventing virus transmission. A 14-day quarantine period is still recommended for anyone who has been exposed while wearing a gaiter or shield.
  • The new quarantine guidelines do not apply to household contacts. Individuals within the same household of an infected person must quarantine for 14 days.

“Wearing a mask is proving to be an effective mitigation measure; however, it’s essential to keep in mind it’s not absolute assurance of prevention,” commented Colette Rossiter, Clay County Public Health Coordinator. “Naturally, there remains a risk that the virus could be transmitted to someone wearing a mask; however, studies have shown that wearing masks have been effective in lowering the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Locally, the schools and businesses who require masking have experienced a lower or non-existent infection rate in those settings when masks are worn.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health states: “Increased mask use will reduce the number of individuals that need to quarantine. This approach is based on data and focused feedback from community and school leaders over the past month indicating that transmission is not frequently occurring when both parties are wearing face coverings consistently and correctly. Additionally, we are aware of other jurisdictions, including Nebraska and Wyoming, that have made similar changes based on experiences in their states. We will continue to make recommendations based on best available information and adjust when needed.”

Along with wearing a face covering, these public health strategies should be followed:

  • Stay home when sick.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet whenever possible.
  • Wash hands frequently.
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