Minnesota issues new guidance on COVID quarantine, aligning with CDC advice

Gov. Tim Walz announced the new guidance Monday.
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Tim Walz

Minnesota will adopt the new guidelines issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control that reduces the acceptable quarantine period for someone who has been exposed to another person with COVID-19.

Previously, the recommended quarantine period after a person has been in close contact with somebody with the virus was 14 days.

This remains the best practice per the CDC as this covers the known incubation period for COVID-19, however last week it issued new guidance that said people could come out of quarantine after 10 days if they remain symptom-free, or after 7 days if you've had a negative test.

Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health said Monday it will be adopting these recommendations, with Walz noting that while the 14-day period remains the safest, the idea of reducing the acceptable quarantine period to 10 days or 7 with a test is to increase compliance.

"A 14 day quarantine is the best thing to do, but the science has been refined enough to say that if we could get more people who were exposed to quarantine for 10 days even, then that would have an impact on the spread of the virus," he said.

"This will make some adjustments to that based on what we can get compliance of," he added, noting that a 14-day quarantine "comes with a little bit of privilege" as not everyone can do so without worrying about work or finances.

Here is the new guidance regarding the 10-day or 7 day quarantines:

10 days

Shortening your quarantine period to 10 days after your most recent exposure to someone with COVID-19 may be considered if:

  • You have not tested positive for COVID-19, you don’t have symptoms, and you will continue to watch out for possible symptoms through day 14.
  • You will continue to mask, maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, and follow other prevention guidance.
  • You will isolate and get tested as soon as possible if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19.

7 days

"The updated guidance allows for the quarantine period to be shortened to seven days if the person meets all the above conditions and has a negative COVID-19 test result."

About the tests:

  • It must be a PCR test (from saliva, or nose, or throat) and not an antigen test.
  • It must be conducted at least five full days after the start of the quarantine period.
  • You may return to regular activities if you test negative and don't have symptoms, but must self-monitor for symptoms through Day 14.
  • You must continue to wear a mask, social distance, and follow other prevention guidance.

When you shouldn't quarantine for less than 14 days

Per MDH, shortening quarantine from 14 days is not recommended in the following scenarios:

  • You have a household exposure. This is because it is difficult for household members to quarantine separately and household exposures have a particularly high risk of transmission.
  • You are in a congregate living situation, including a long-term care facility, correctional facility, homeless shelter or other setting. In these settings, it can be very difficult for people to quarantine individually and there is higher risk of exposing multiple people, including those at high-risk of severe disease.
  • You work in health care settings, correctional facilities or shelters: The updated state guidance has specific language for health care workers. Because health care workers provide care for the most vulnerable and those most at risk for severe complications from COVID-19, they should be excluded for 14 days from working in health care setting. If a facility is experiencing a staffing shortage, the facility may ask the health care worker to return prior to the end of their 14-day quarantine.

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