The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working on new quarantine guidelines, which could decrease the quarantine period from 14 days to as little as seven days, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner reported in a Wednesday post to the Highland County Health Department’s Facebook page.
According to the CDC’s website, these new guidelines would give local public health authorities two new options for quarantines in an effort to decrease the burden on quarantined individuals and local health departments.
Though the CDC still recommends that those exposed to COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days, a time frame that is based on maximum incubation periods for the virus, the agency’s new guidelines could offer the following additional quarantine options:
* Option 1 — Quarantine can end after the 10th day since the last point of close contact with a confirmed Covid case if the quarantined individual has not developed symptoms. The CDC does not require testing for this option.
* Option 2 — Quarantine can end after the seventh day since close contact if the quarantined individual has not developed symptoms and if the individual tests negative. According to CDC guidelines, individuals cannot undergo testing earlier than the fifth day since close contact. Quarantine periods cannot end before the seventh day.
However, testing would still be prioritized for those who are actively sick and seeking to confirm whether they have Covid.
Under both of these options, quarantined individuals would be required to continue daily symptom monitoring until the 14th day since close contact. If an individual develops symptoms after discontinuing quarantine, the guidelines instruct them to immediately enter self-isolation and contact either a local health official or their health care provider.
As of Wednesday, the quarantine period will remain 14 days, Warner said, as the changes are not official yet. Warner added that the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) may need to adopt these new guidelines before they can be implemented locally.
In the meantime, however, Warner voiced support for the new guidelines.
“I think this is a very smart change, and something we have talked about internally at our health department for a while,” Warner wrote. “The most recent study that I read (I think as far back as September) showed that about 95 percent of cases that will be symptomatic will show symptoms within 7 days. Going to 10 days increases this to about 97.5 percent. One of our hopes is that reducing the quarantine time will help encourage people to cooperate with contact tracing efforts and allow us to better control our rate of disease in the county. It is easier for people to accept and participate in a 7- or 10-day quarantine than a 14-day quarantine. It will also help our local businesses keep staff in place and keep operations continuing.
“As a reminder, this is how the scientific process works. As new and better information becomes available, we shift our policies to adjust. We get smarter over time and learn how to improve policies and processes. This is a good thing!”
Warner also reported that the health department is beginning to plan for the “logistical hurdles” that will come with an ultra-cold vaccine as pharmaceutical companies seek FDA approval for their COVID-19 vaccines.
Last week, Warner reported that, if approved, Pfizer’s Covid vaccine will require an “ultra-cold” storage temperature around minus 75 degrees Celsius, or minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Not many local storage freezers reach these levels, so we expect dry ice containers and limited shelf life when this vaccine begins to be available in Highland County,” Warner wrote in a Nov. 25 post. “Other vaccine candidates are reporting less severe storage conditions, which will help us in handling vaccines safely on the local level.”
The following are Highland County’s overall COVID-19 statistics as of Wednesday:
Highland County has had a total of 1,257 lab-confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases, according to the Highland County Health Department.
On Wednesday, Warner reported that the health department is currently seeing about 12 to 21 new cases each day, though the county’s new case statistics seem to be stabilizing.
The health department is also beginning to see cases connected to Thanksgiving gatherings.
The health department reported that there were 255 actively sick patients. The health department is monitoring 345 Highland County residents for symptoms, though the health department urges those who know they have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case to begin quarantine independently.
As of Wednesday, at least nine Highland County patients were hospitalized due to COVID-19. Last week, Warner stated that the health department is no longer able to track the current number of patients hospitalized due to Covid. As of Tuesday, the ODH reported 70 total hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Highland County since March.
According to the ODH, which reported 1,208 cumulative cases in the county as of Wednesday, of the cases in Highland County:
* 197 cases involved 50- to 59-year-olds. Of these cases, 11 resulted in hospitalization.
* 181 cases involved 60- to 69-year-olds. Of these cases, 13 resulted in hospitalization, and two resulted in death.
* 167 cases involved 40- to 49-year-olds. Of these cases, six resulted in hospitalization.
* 151 cases involved 70- to 79-year-olds. Of these cases, 23 resulted in hospitalization, and six resulted in death.
* 150 cases involved 20- to 29-year-olds. Of these cases, one resulted in hospitalization.
* 146 cases involved 30- to 39-year-olds. Of these cases, one resulted in hospitalization.
* 128 cases involved 0- to 19-year-olds. Of these cases, one resulted in hospitalization.
* 84 cases involved someone 80 years old or older. Of these cases, 14 resulted in hospitalization, and 10 resulted in death.
* Four cases involved patients of unknown ages.
Warner previously stated that there is a delay in the reporting process between individual counties and the ODH.
As of Wednesday, a note on the ODH’s website read, “Today’s data is incomplete. Because of unprecedented volume, thousands of reports are pending review. Please bear with us as we work through this surge in testing.”
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.