Saturday, September 30, 2023

Department of Health Updates COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

(Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash)

RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has updated its guidance on isolation and quarantine for groups at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease, reflecting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) evidence of high rates of immunity.

“As COVID continues its progression from an acute pandemic to a more endemic state, we must continually reassess our recommendations to the public and our fellow agencies, considering not only potential disease effects, but also unintended non-clinical consequences of any restrictions,” State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene said.

Greene noted CDC evidence now suggests over 75% of children possess post-infection immunity in addition to vaccine-derived protection, adding adult rates of immunity, between vaccination and post-infection, likely exceeds 90%. Further, there is evidence that post-infection immunity may be effective for 6 months or longer.

“It is time to revisit some of our practices for groups that are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease, especially those whose side effect is a significant limitation of access to daycare, school, or work,” he explained.

Effective immediately, for non-high risk situations, if a person is exposed to COVID-19, but has tested positive for and recovered from it within the last 6 months; or is up to date on vaccines, or both, that person will no longer be recommended to quarantine. Those persons should monitor for symptoms and follow isolation protocols should they appear.

This guidance varies slightly from CDC guidance, which defines the post-infection immunity period as 90 days.

“This change will apply to the general public, including but not limited to settings such as K-12 schools and early childhood education settings,” Greene explained. “Out of an abundance of caution, we will retain the 90-day standard for higher-risk situations, including healthcare workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters.”

The changes will be reflected on the Isolation and Quarantine page on the VDH website and other related pages that were recently updated.

The change only pertains to quarantine recommendations for individuals and will not impact case surveillance/case classification process for purposes of reporting probable or confirmed cases to CDC, Greene noted. Additionally, recommendations for isolation with active disease or asymptomatic positive testing remain unchanged.

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