CDC and VDH Update Quarantine Protocols
When someone has been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19, the best course of action is to stay home for 14 days (quarantine). Quarantining offers the most protection and prevention against spreading the virus before symptoms occur. The CDC initially recommended 14 days of quarantine because that was the upper end of time when someone without symptoms (asymptomatic) would convert to having symptoms, ultimately test positive, and thus be contagious.

On Friday, December 5, the CDC added two additional options to shorten the quarantine period because the burden of sustaining 14 days at home was inhibiting compliance. Monday, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) adopted the two recommendations in hopes of reducing the spread of disease and protecting communities from asymptomatic transmission.


1) Most recommended and safest option is quarantine for 14 days from the day of exposure. Monitor symptoms and get tested if symptoms begin. If no symptoms begin after 14 days, return to normal activities. Healthcare workers and workers at healthcare facilities must quarantine for 14 days.

2) If 14 days of quarantine is not possible, there are two options. Both require daily monitoring of symptoms, wearing your mask, and staying 6ft apart from others for a full 14 days. If symptoms occur at any time, get tested and isolate.

  • Quarantine for 10 days without testing. If no symptoms are reported after 10 days, return to normal activities.

  • Take a PCR or Antigen test on or after day 5. If the test is negative and you have no symptoms, you may end quarantine after 7 days.

3) People with certain jobs (e.g., critical infrastructure other than education sector workers) should stay home if they have been exposed, but they may be allowed to go to work if the business cannot operate without them. They can only go to work if they do not have any symptoms and if additional precautions are taken to protect them and the community. Consistent with VDH recommendations, BRHD recommends that students, teachers, and other staff in the education sector quarantine for 14 days before returning to school or work.

NOTE: The updated quarantine time period options retroactively apply to anyone currently under quarantine requesting to be released early.