The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is working to make the changes in processes to allow for a reduced quarantine period for persons who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Only the Alabama State Health Officer has the authority to establish state quarantine and isolation requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended two additional options for quarantine and asked states to review their respective COVID-19 situations. In its commitment to protect Alabamians during this pandemic, ADPH is studying the information and supporting documentation to make recommendations specific to Alabama. Record high numbers of new COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations have occurred in Alabama this week, requiring ongoing review of what the impact of changes in home quarantine requirements could have in our state.
According to CDC, 14 days remains the optimal time for home quarantine, as this time frame covers the broad range of the incubation period for COVID-19. Exercising options for home quarantine of less than 14 days carries attendant risks of disease, especially in Alabama’s environment of widespread community transmission, high overall percent positivity, and need to preserve testing capacity for symptomatic and high-risk individuals.
ADPH is working to make the changes needed to allow the release of persons from quarantine at 10 days under certain conditions identified in the CDC’s recommendations. CDC’s updated guidance requires additional conditions for home quarantine of 10 days which include no COVID-related symptoms, daily self-monitoring for symptoms, and consistent social distancing and mask wearing. This will require ADPH to make changes to current processes which should be finalized before December 11. Even if excused from 14-day quarantine, persons must use extreme caution regarding monitoring for symptoms for the full two weeks and practice mitigation strategies within and beyond the quarantine period. Home quarantine for residents of long-term care and correctional facilities will not change from the current 14-day requirement.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “While we would like to be able to decrease the home quarantine time frame to seven days for persons who may have been exposed to COVID-19, this is not possible at this time due to a number of reasons including our high case numbers and the disparity in testing resources among different parts of our state. We should not knowingly increase the percentage of possibly infectious asymptomatic persons out and about. Even though there is hope that our first doses of COVID-19 vaccine may arrive in the next two weeks, we are still months away from having enough vaccine to protect everyone. So, ADPH continues to encourage every Alabamian to stay home when possible, and to practice social distancing and wear masks when they must be out. Please protect the most vulnerable people in our state by doing the right things.”
For additional information concerning the CDC’s quarantine guidance, please go to cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html