Is it possible to speed up COVID-19 quarantine after exposure?

Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 5:43 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Is it possible to test out of quarantine? The two-week isolation period can be a headache, but a local doctor says it’s one you should endure not only for your health but for the health of others.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Ellen Eaton with UAB said heading out to get a COVID-19 test during quarantine doesn’t shorten the 14-day process - even if the test is negative.

Dr. Eaton said she’s seen patients - and even some healthcare workers - confused about when to begin a quarantine and if they must quarantine.

If you’ve been within 6 feet of another person for 15 minutes or longer and that person tests positive for COVID-19, you need to stay home and away from others for 14 days.

“If you’re with them Saturday through Wednesday and you hear that they were infected, your 14-day clock then starts on Wednesday. For an additional 14 days.”

This is an example released by the CDC for when to begin quarantine. It begins on the last day you were around the infected person.

Dr. Eaton says she understands people are eager to get back to normal life and have to work but it’s important to correctly quarantine to help slow the spread. However, Dr. Eaton said the responsibility doesn’t just fall on the individual.

“The message needs to be to the employer. We need to give our workforce permission to follow public health guidance. We need to incentivize them to stay home and follow the rules. Because the loss of one individual staying home is minimal to subjecting your entire workforce to a 14-day quarantine after that one worker or classmate returned prematurely,” Dr. Eaton said.

The reason for a 14-day quarantine is because the virus can lay dormant in the body for that length of time.

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