The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened its COVID-19 quarantine health guidance Wednesday by nearly half of its original 14-day recommendation.  

The new recommendation that people who suspect they may have contracted the coronavirus self-isolate between seven to 10 days comes as the US grapples with a surging pandemic, and health authorities noted in making the change that the dramatic uptick would lead to increased burdens for both individuals and public health bodies.

The shorter timeframe, they hoped, would lead to greater compliance.

“Many times, the public health authorities are responsible for monitoring people during quarantine. They have to follow them to the end, and we believe that if we can reduce the burden a little bit, accepting it comes at a small cost, we may get a greater compliance overall with people completing a full quarantine in seven days,” John Brooks, the CDC’s chief COVID-19 medical officer, told reporters on a conference call.

The seven-day quarantine recommendation is for those who have received a negative COVID-19 test while the longer 10-day guidance is for those who have not been tested. In either case, the individual should not exhibit symptoms.

The CDC is continuing to recommend that people not travel for the holidays, but should they decide to do so the health authority is urging them to be tested one to three days before travel and three to five days after the trip has concluded.

The US is seeing record levels of COVID-19 cases as it continues to record about 150,000 per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That is fueled in large part by holiday gatherings and other social interactions as people move in-doors during the colder winter months.

To date, over 272,000 people have died of the disease in the US while 13.8 million have been infected, according to the university’s running tally.

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