The Erie County Department of Health is currently unable to contact the majority of persons diagnosed with COVID-19. If you are told you have COVID-19 disease, immediately isolate yourself; do not wait until the health department contacts you to take this action. Stay in isolation for 10 days from when your symptoms started or 10 days from the test date if you did not have symptoms. You are out of isolation on day 11. Isolation means no contact with anyone in your household, or very minimal contact if it is not possible to use your own bathroom.
Also think about people that you were in close contact with during the two days before your symptoms started, or two days before the date that the test sample was collected if you did not have symptoms before the test. This is the infectious period – the time that the virus can be spread to others.
Close contact means within 6 feet or less, for 15 consecutive minutes or longer. Contact these people and tell them that you have COVID-19 disease. These people are at risk of getting COVID-19 disease based on their exposure to you.
On Dec. 2, the CDC provided options to reduce the length of quarantine for contacts of persons with COVID-19 infection using symptom monitoring and diagnostic testing. Late Friday, Dec. 4, the Pennsylvania Department of Health released the same option, making clear that the test-out option is ONLY for areas that can support additional testing capacity.
The Erie County Department of Health does support ending quarantine on Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. With this strategy, residual post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated to be about 1% with an upper limit of about 10%.
Persons can discontinue quarantine at 10 days only if the following criteria are also met:
- No clinical evidence of COVID-19 has been elicited by daily symptom monitoring during the entirety of quarantine up to the time at which quarantine is discontinued; and,
- Daily symptom monitoring continues through quarantine Day 14; and,
- Persons are counseled regarding the need to adhere strictly through Day 14 after exposure to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g., masking, physical distancing).
If any symptoms develop, they should immediately self-isolate and contact their local their healthcare provider or health department to report this change in clinical status.
This guidance is provided for the community and does NOT apply to healthcare or congregate settings. These settings should continue to follow previously provided guidance for these settings.
The Erie County Department of Health is taking the 10-day quarantine approach because local testing resources are NOT adequate to accommodate a surge in testing requests for persons without symptoms of COVID disease. Current testing capacity is unable to provide enough test collection and test results in a timely fashion for those with COVID-19 symptoms, yet alone an increase in testing requests for asymptomatic persons desiring to decrease quarantine.
The goal of the reduced time is to reduce the burden of quarantine for persons exposed to COVID-19 disease. The most protective recommended quarantine period remains at 14 days post-exposure because this is the incubation period for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.
Each and every one of us must take responsibility for controlling the spread of COVID-19 disease to our friend and families. Wear a mask, keep a 6-foot distance from anyone who doesn’t live inside your home, wash your hands frequently, and stay home if you are sick.
These take place on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. Tune in to your local station or on our Facebook pages for Erie County government or Erie County Department of Health.
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