Louisiana health department loosens COVID-19 quarantine guidelines

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By David Jacobs

(The Center Square) – The Louisiana Department of Health has updated its guidance to allow people who have been exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine for as few as seven days before returning to school or work. A 14-day quarantine remains the “gold standard” that provides the greatest reduction in transmission risk and will continue to be LDH’s recommendation for residents and staff of congregant housing such as nursing homes and prisons. But others can end their quarantine after seven days if they have tested negative and have not experienced symptoms.

Quarantine can end after 10 days without a test if the person has not experienced symptoms. For the 10-day quarantine, the risk that an individual who is leaving quarantine early could transmit to someone else if they became infected is about 1 percent, with an upper limit of 10 percent, LDH says. For the 7-day quarantine, the risk that an individual who is leaving quarantine early could transmit to someone else if they became infected is about 5 percent, with an upper limit of 12 percent. State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley requested the change, which reflects the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance.

Some parents and school leaders said the previous recommendation calling for 14-day quarantines for anyone exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was too strict and led to students missing in-person classes and extracurricular activities unnecessarily. “Our schools have not been found to be ‘super spreaders’ of this virus and we’re thankful for this,” Brumley said in a prepared statement. “We believe continued adherence to our mitigation efforts such as group sizes, face coverings, physical distancing, and hand washing are critically important. We must remain vigilant until this pandemic ends – especially now during the holiday season.”

Quarantine is used to separate someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 or another infectious disease and may develop illness away from other people. Quarantine helps prevent spread of the disease that can occur before a person knows they have the virus.