The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will adopt the CDC’s new guidelines for shortened quarantine periods, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner announced on Friday.
According to the CDC’s website, these new guidelines 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 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. 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 are 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.
“This is complicated and it is going to take a while for us to get familiar with all the details,” Warner wrote. “It is also not going to catch all COVID-19 exposures. We are trading off the overall effectiveness of the quarantine period in exchange for the likelihood that more people will comply with the quarantine process in general.
“With this new incentive for testing, we should also expect to see an increase in COVID-19 tests in the future as more people get tested in an effort to reduce quarantine time frames. This increase in positive tests is not likely to result in increased hospitalizations (most cases will be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic) but could lead to a future decrease in COVID-19 rates as more cases are identified and placed in isolation.”
An update on Highland County’s Covid statistics from the health department was not available as of press time.
On Friday, Warner reported that there had been 1,324 cumulative cases in Highland County since March.
The rate of new cases remained steady last week: the health department saw 18-21 new cases each day last week, according to Warner.
However, the health department staff is still struggling to maintain contact-tracing and quarantine efforts, Warner reported Friday.
“Automating our process has helped a lot, but we just aren’t reaching everyone directly like we have been able to do in the past,” Warner wrote. “As we begin vaccine response, we are going to have even less time to work on isolation and quarantine. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, stay home at least 10 days, and possibly longer if your symptoms aren’t improved by day 10. If you are a close contact to a positive case, then stay home for at least 10 days and watch for symptoms.”
Also on Friday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he expects the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to begin on or around Tuesday, Dec. 15. As the initial supply of vaccines will be limited, vaccines will primarily be available to high-risk health care workers, first responders, and nursing and group home residents and staff.
Availability will increase to other individuals as supply increases.
According to the ODH, which reported 1,362 cumulative cases in the county as of Monday, of the cases in Highland County:
* 226 cases involved 50- to 59-year-olds. Of these cases, 11 resulted in hospitalization.
* 198 cases involved 60- to 69-year-olds. Of these cases, 13 resulted in hospitalization, and two resulted in death.
* 188 cases involved 40- to 49-year-olds. Of these cases, six resulted in hospitalization.
* 177 cases involved 20- to 29-year-olds. Of these cases, one resulted in hospitalization.
* 173 cases involved 30- to 39-year-olds. Of these cases, one resulted in hospitalization.
* 160 cases involved 70- to 79-year-olds. Of these cases, 24 resulted in hospitalization, and six resulted in death.
* 143 cases involved 0- to 19-year-olds. Of these cases, one resulted in hospitalization.
* 90 cases involved someone 80 years old or older. Of these cases, 14 resulted in hospitalization, and 10 resulted in death.
* Seven 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 Monday, 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.