SAN ANTONIO – People who tested positive for COVID-19 can exit isolation and resume normal activity after 10 days if they no longer have symptoms, according to new guidance from health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued new guidance that states COVID-19 patients who never developed symptoms no longer need a negative test to be considered recovered if 10 days have passed since their positive result.
Under the recommendations, “isolation and other precautions can be discontinued” after that time period.
For most COVID-19 patients with symptoms, isolation can be discontinued 10 days after they first experienced symptoms, and they no longer have a fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine, the CDC states.
Those with severe illness beyond 10 days may have to extend isolation for up to 20 days after experiencing symptoms, but they should adhere to guidance from a health expert.
The CDC states in a series of patients, “it was estimated that 88% and 95% of their specimens no longer yielded replication-competent virus after 10 and 15 days, respectively, following symptom onset.”
The new recommendations are only guidelines for patients and the health community and not rules.
According to the New York Times, COVID-19 patients were able to be considered if they twice tested negative for the virus within 24 hours.
With a surge in coronavirus tests in Texas and across the country, the new guidelines may help relieve clogs at laboratories, as previously COVID-19 patients don’t need to return for yet another test.
Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant health secretary, told reporters last week that retesting is “clogging up the system.”
U.S. officials have recently called for ramping up screening to include seemingly healthy Americans who may be unknowingly spreading the disease in their communities. But Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s largest testing chains, said it can’t keep up with demand and most patients will face waits of a week or longer for results.
The U.S. is testing over 700,000 people per day, up from less than 100,000 in March.
Test results that come back after two or three days are nearly worthless, many health experts say, because by then the window for tracing the person’s contacts to prevent additional infections has essentially closed.
The U.S. has confirmed nearly 4 million infections and more than 142,000 deaths.