ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Health has adopted updated COVID-19 quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it could mean shorter quarantine periods for certain people.

For months, the CDC has recommended a 14-day quarantine period for all people who may have been exposed to the virus. After further study, the agency now says some people could be able to quarantine for 10 or seven days depending on symptoms, test results and living/work situations.

Health officials say you may shorten your quarantine period to 10 days 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 a six-foot 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.

The quarantine period can be shortened to seven days if the person meets all the above conditions and tests negative for COVID-19 at least five full days after the start of the quarantine period.

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm says the best way to keep from spreading the virus is to adhere to the full 14-day quarantine. However, evidence indicates the risk of a person becoming infected and passing along that infection is highest in the early days of the quarantine and much lower in the last few days of the 14-day period.

“So the hope here is that, by shortening the quarantine period by trimming off just the last few days, when the risk is significantly lower, that will make people more likely to actually follow the guidance to the end,” said Malcolm. “And it can also mean – very importantly – fewer quarantine-related disruptions to peoples’ lives, and those of their family.”

Malcolm says if a person leaves quarantine and then develops any symptoms of COVID-19 up through day 14, they still need to stay away from others and get tested as soon as possible.

“Continuing to monitor your symptoms through the full 14 days is very, very important,” Malcolm said. “And even minor symptoms that we now know can be associated with COVID-19 should be taken seriously – even a headache. If you are someone coming off a quarantine after 10 days, please be really vigilant in watching for symptoms, and even if you have something quite mild, consider that a potential warning sign that indeed you might have COVID-19.”

Health officials do not recommend shortened quarantine periods for people who have had household exposure or live in a long-term care centers, correctional facilities, homeless shelters or other congregate living environments. It’s also not recommended for people who work in health care, correctional facilities or shelters.

The Minnesota Department of Health says there were 5,296 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 more deaths reported Sunday. Officials expect the total number of infections since the start of the pandemic to top 400,000 by the end of the week.

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