Delaware adjusting quarantine guidelines for close contacts

WILMINGTON — As Delaware’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to set records, the Delaware Division of Public Health will begin to follow new quarantine guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control by the end of the year.

The new guidelines change quarantines to either seven days with a negative COVID-19 test or 10 days without a test. This only applies to close contacts of a positive case, not those who test positive or are symptomatic.

CDC research has shown it is very rare for a person to become positive for the virus after 10 days of quarantining. While the 14-day quarantine has the lowest risk, public health officials recognize there are other societal factors to consider.

“It may cast a wide net and keep people from exposing others but it’s a high burden on individuals and society keeping people out of work,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “It also doesn’t really promote people getting tested.”

For those wanting to exit quarantine after seven days, they would require a negative test. If the individual is taking a PCR test, it is recommended to take that on day five or later while an antigen test is strongly recommended to be taken on the seventh day of quarantine. If the test comes back negative, the quarantine can end on day eight.

One important caveat is the individual must not have any COVID-19 symptoms to exit quarantine.

“If you leave quarantine before 14 days, it’s really critically important that you continue to monitor for symptoms,” Dr. Rattay said. “And strictly adhere to wearing a face covering at all times and social distancing from others for 14 days.”

Dr. Rattay said the state is looking to roll out a new system early next week to be able to communicate through quarantines with close contacts. She added some settings, such as long-term care centers, will be required to stick with the 14-day quarantine.

Delaware has recorded 42,393 positive COVID-19 cases since the first one was reported on March 11. There were 925 new positives in Wednesday’s report, reflecting data as of Tuesday at 6 p.m. — just the second time new daily positives have broken the 900 mark.

COVID-19 hospitalizations set a record for the second day in a row, increasing by 10 up to 348. Of those hospitalized, 42 cases are considered critical.

There were no new deaths to report as the death toll stayed at 803. Long-term care centers have recorded 448 of the 803 deaths.

Delaware’s seven-day rolling average for percentage of positive tests is now double the World Health Organization’s recommended mark of 5%. The statistic increased to 10% as of Sunday at 6 p.m., which is the highest it has been since May 26. There is a two-day lag for presenting percentage of positive tests to account for the time delay between the date of the test and the date the DPH receives the test result.

For the most recent day of available testing data, Sunday, there were 469 positives out of the 4,332 tests processed for that day (10.8%).

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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