Coronavirus Updates

Local health officials weigh in on new CDC guidance

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — While the country waits for widespread distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines on how long people may actually need to be quarantining.

With positive cases soaring in the tri-state area, health officials in the area are proceeding with caution.

The guidelines came out earlier this week. In the past, guidance has been two weeks of quarantine.

Now, the new guidance states that quarantine can potentially end after ten days if the exposed person has no symptoms, or even on day seven if they’ve had no symptoms and receive a negative test.

People wait in line to get tested for COVID-19 at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Photojournalist Chris Holtzapfel)

This development is not a dramatic curtailment of the previous 14 day rule, though.

“The CDC continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine, and the Cabell-Huntington Health Department is maintaining that standard at this time.”

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, M.D., M.S., physician director, Cabell-Huntington Health Department

Kilkenny wants to make clear: this is only for people with no symptoms.

“If you develop symptoms at any time, you must resume your quarantine, you must isolate yourself, and it’s a good idea at that point to get tested.” 

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, M.D., M.S., physician director, Cabell-Huntington Health Department

Kilkenny says getting on the same page with other health officials in the tri-state area to present uniform guidance is critical.

Georgia Dillon, the health commissioner in Lawrence County, Ohio, agrees.

“We’ll be sticking with the 14-day guidance until we can get clarification from Ohio state, and work together with our partners in West Virginia and Kentucky because that’s where our patients are going, and we just all need to be on the same page, very clear.” 

Georgia Dillon, health commissioner, Lawrence County Health Department

Both health officials tell us the seven and ten-day options are riskier time frames to release people from quarantine than the 14-day model.

However, Kilkenny does recognize the benefits of a shorter quarantine.

“It’s gonna be really really helpful if we could apply that for people who have to work. If you’re not getting paid, and you’re out for 14 days, and we could make it so that you could return to work at seven days, that’s a great benefit to you.” 

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, M.D., M.S., physician director, Cabell-Huntington Health Department

A shorter quarantine may have another positive implication as well.

A healthcare worker holds the COVID-19 questionnaire sheet. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Photojournalist Chris Holtzapfel)

If more people are getting tested while in quarantine, that helps the local health departments better track the spread.

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department and the Lawrence County Health Department are both sticking with the recommended 14-day quarantine model, but are working with other local and state officials to explore how the new guidance can be implemented.

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