OLATHE, Kan. — If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you might have to stay home less time. The Johnson County Health Department is aligning with new Centers for Disease Control guidelines, allowing you to return to activities after one week.
“We are learning more about the virus and that as we learn more, which is the way science works, adjustments will be made,” said Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Deptartment of Health and Environment.
The CDC studied thousands of cases and found less than 5% of people still transmit COVID-19 after a week of being exposed to the virus.
“It can be dangerous. Now if everyone were, and I’m sure most of our audience is, if you were doing other pillars of infection control—not gathering large groups, masks, distancing, hand hygiene, I think that’ll push that risk of transmission down even lower,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infectious disease specialist with the University of Kansas Health System.
New CDC rules, adopted by Johnson County, say if you get tested five days after exposure, and your result is negative, you can go back to normal activities on day eight. But that is only possible if you are not showing any symptoms. If you choose not to get tested, the quarantine period can end after 10 days.
“If this is going to get more people to come and get tested, day five, six or seven, that’s great. Part of the thing I think we’ve struggled with is we ask people to quarantine 14 days,” Dr. Areola said.
Experts are hoping that’s good news for families who have avoided testing or staying home two weeks, for fear of losing out on critical income.
“It allows people to go out and feed families, allows our businesses to keep going,” Dr. Areola said.
If you get sick at any point during quarantine, with or without a COVID test, you should stay home two full weeks.
“You’re still required to monitor your symptoms so if you do develop symptoms, you need to go and get tested. You’re still required to put on your mask and physical distance. If we do those collectively, this is a good step,” said Dr. Areola.