Q: Should I quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19?
According to revised CDC guidance released at the end of the last year, if you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 and received a booster shot, you don’t need to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19, but you should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days after exposure.
If you haven’t been fully vaccinated (two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine), or if it’s been more than six months after your second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and you haven’t yet received a booster shot, the CDC now recommends that you quarantine for five days after exposure to COVID-19, followed by five days of strict masking. Hawaii’s Department of Health has also updated their quarantine/isolation guidance to align with the CDC. Also, according to guidance released by the Hawaii DOH, you may end your quarantine after an exposure if ALL three of the following are true: 1) it has been at least 5 full days since the last contact with the person with COVID-19, 2) you have had no symptoms, and 3) if you tested, your test was negative.
Regardless of your vaccination status, it’s a good idea to get a COVID test five days after your exposure.
And if you start experiencing symptoms, you should isolate yourself immediately, until you’re able to get a test to confirm you don’t have COVID-19.
If at any time during your quarantine period you test positive for COVID-19, you should then isolate for 5 days (and until symptoms, if any, are resolving and you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours), followed by another 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.
Per the CDC, the shortened recommendation for quarantine and isolation 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. For more information, visit https://health.hawaii.gov/news/newsroom/doh-revises-states-isolation-quarantine-policy/.