King County following new CDC quarantine guidelines

Public Health—Seattle & King County plans to follow the new CDC quarantine guidance for contacts of COVID-19 cases. A 14-day quarantine remains recommended as the safest option to prevent COVID-19 transmission for those who can do it. But now two other options will be available for people who do NOT develop symptoms.

If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you have no symptoms, Public Health recommends the following:

  1. Stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact. This is the safest option
  2. If this is not possible, stay in quarantine for 10 days after your last contact.
  3. If the first two options are not possible, stay in quarantine for 7 full days beginning after your last contact and if you receive a negative test result (get tested no sooner than day-5 after your last contact). This will depend on availability of testing resources and may not be recommended in some settings.

Even if people follow a “shortened” quarantine, it is critical to continue to monitor for symptoms through day 14, and if symptoms develop, to isolate and seek testing promptly. When exposed to someone with COVID-19, there is risk of developing symptoms and illness through day 14.

The new guidance attempts to balance the unintended economic hardship and other factors that may reduce compliance with a 14-day quarantine, and the small risk of people developing COVID-19 after shortened quarantines, which potentially contributes to the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Importantly, people should continue to take precautions to reduce the risk to others including distancing and mask-wearing through the full 14-day period.

For healthcare and congregate settings: When possible, a 14-day quarantine is preferred, as in other settings. The decision on quarantine duration in health care and other potentially high-risk transmission settings should be based on the feasibility of adherence to and adverse impacts of a 14-day quarantine compared with a shorter duration, along with staffing considerations and details of the specific situation. 

Public Health is working on incorporating the new guidance into our case and contact investigations and guidance for congregate settings and other high-risk settings.

(Originally posted on December 3, 2020) (wording updated Dec. 10, 2020)