Gov. Walz, MDH Trim Recommended Quarantine to 10 or 7 Days After COVID Exposure
A full 14-day quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 is still the most safe, officials said.
ST.PAUL, Minn.- Governor Tim Walz and state health leaders announced changes Monday to how long people should quarantine if exposed to someone with coronavirus, and also prepped the state for new mitigation efforts to come within the week.
“The fact of the matter is a 14-day quarantine is the best thing to do. But the science has been refined enough to say if we could get more people to quarantine for 10 days even, that would have an impact on the spread of the virus,” Gov. Walz said in the press conference Monday.
The Governor and the Minnesota Department of Health changed the recommendations to match those of the CDC, which changed last week.
“By shortening the quarantine period by trimming off just the last few days when the risk is significantly lower, that that will make people more likely to follow the guidance to the end,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
The new guidelines say 10-day quarantines are now recommended if the person has not tested positive, and has no symptoms.
A 7-day quarantine would apply to those who met the aforementioned requirements and also test negative using a nasal swab or saliva test after five days of quarantine.
14-day quarantines are still being recommended for healthcare workers, those living with someone infected, and residents and staff in nursing homes and correctional facilities.
“We just can’t say everybody that is recommended to quarantine now has to quarantine for only 7 days that’s just not true,” St. Louis County Public Health Director Amy Westbrook said.
Westbrook said she hopes the new rules help make complying easier for some of those in the county who she has heard have trouble with staying home a full two weeks if not infected.
“Anecdotally we know that it’s difficult for people to comply with quarantine, a 14-day quarantine period is pretty long, it’s difficult to stay away from work, from school,” said Westbrook.
For employers, MDH officials said if a quarantined employee experiences no symptoms and meets the other requirements by the 7th or 10th day they can call them back to work, as long as the employee feels healthy and able.
Meanwhile state health officials stressed 14 days is still the safer option.
“The risk does go down towards the end of that 14 day period but there is still a small risk so theoretically a person coming off quarantine does present some additional risk for transmission,” Malcolm said.
11 days after Thanksgiving, health experts said the effects of the Minnesotans who did travel during the holiday — despite recommendations — will be seen on case numbers and hospitalizations in the coming weeks.
This, according to Walz, will determine whether his present restrictions on gatherings; gyms, bars, restaurants and other indoor spaces will extend into Christmas or even later. “It is our hope to try and provide some guidance around mitigation efforts by the end of this week.”
“It’s also the most difficult time to be away from your family, to social distance and not to do the things we like to do,” said the Governor. “It is an absolute convergence of the worst possible things.”
“If we do these things right it’s only a short matter of time till we get a handle on this thing and get back to the things that we care about,” he said.