What You Need to Know About CDC’s Updated COVID-19 Quarantine Guidelines

please wear mask

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Key Takeaways

  • The CDC no longer recommends quarantine for people who've been exposed to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Experts say the update may be more realistic for people to continue their responsibilities when exposed, but quarantine may still be essential for high-risk groups and unvaccinated people.

People who’ve been exposed to COVID-19 will no longer have to quarantine unless they test positive or develop symptoms, according to updated guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The agency advises wearing a mask for 10 days and getting tested on the fifth day after exposure, regardless of vaccination status. Isolation is still recommended for those who are sick and suspect they have COVID-19, even if they have yet to receive test results.

Some criticized the relaxation of COVID-19 guidelines as risking the safety of immunocompromised people, but others saw the change as practical.

“We appreciate CDC’s approach to try to do something that is a little more realistic in terms of how folks will live their lives,” said Charles Miramonti, MD, senior medical director at Oak Street Health, a healthcare facility that primarily serves older adults.

Masking, which is recommended for people who are exposed to the virus, is less negotiable for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, he added.

The updated recommendation provides some wiggle room for people to continue their daily responsibilities, or interact with their family or caregivers more freely, Miramonti said.

Many of the patients at Oak Street are older and have caregivers who are bringing them food and medication or assisting with daily living skills. Even if a patient has been exposed to COVID-19, they still need a caregiver, he said.

But for unvaccinated people who may have a higher risk of severe disease, quarantine or isolation is extra important, he added.

If you do end up testing positive, you should isolate immediately for at least five days until your symptoms improve, according to the CDC.

What This Means For You

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, the CDC recommends wearing a high-quality mask for 10 days and testing on the fifth day after exposure, instead of quarantining. But people who are at high risk of severe illness may still want to take extra measures to reduce their risk.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease and Prevention. What to do if you were exposed to COVID-19.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC streamlines COVID-19 guidance to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risk.

By Claire Wolters
Claire Wolters is a staff reporter covering health news for Verywell. She is most passionate about stories that cover real issues and spark change.