Los Angeles County on Friday ended its order to quarantine asymptomatic people exposed to the coronavirus.
The rule change means that anyone – even someone not vaccinated against COVID-19 or up to date with a booster – who is exposed to an infected person no longer needs to stay home for at least five days to see whether she will test positive or become ill, provided he has no symptoms.
But unlike the California Department of Public Health, which universally relaxed its quarantine recommendations for the public earlier this month, LA County has established a few conditions for waiving the waiting period.
The county will require, not just recommend, that people who have had close contact with an infected person “wear a highly protective mask around others, especially indoors, for a total of 10 days after last contact with a person infected” with the coronavirus, and get tested within three to five days of their last exposure to the infected person.
Anyone who lives or works in LA County is subject to this masking order.
A person is considered exposed to the coronavirus if they share the same indoor airspace — such as a home, clinic waiting room, or airplane — with an infected person during their contagious period for at least 15 minutes in a 24-hour period. time.
Previously, the county defined an exposure as someone being within six feet of an infected person for 15 minutes in a 24-hour period. But that definition is now outdated, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday, because she “didn’t really recognize the emerging science that this virus is airborne.”
Quarantine rules remain in place for residents of certain high-risk settings – such as nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters – who are exposed to the coronavirus but have not completed their primary vaccination series and have not been infected in the previous 90 days.
Quarantines are meant to keep people exposed to the virus at home until enough time has passed to see if they test positive or get sick. If a quarantined person ends up testing positive or showing symptoms, they self-isolate and the county’s isolation rule remains unchanged.
LA County requires anyone who tests positive for or shows symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, to self-isolate and stay home for at least five days after onset of illness or after the date of first positive test.
LA County says residents can end isolation after day five, as long as they have no symptoms or their symptoms improve, and test negative on or after day five. (A rapid antigen test is preferred for this purpose, as laboratory PCR tests are so sensitive that they may still show a positive result weeks after the infectious period has ended.)
People should still stay home if they have a fever and stay there for at least 24 hours after the fever ends. Isolation can end after day 10, without the need for a negative rapid test result, as long as symptoms improve and there has been no fever for at least one day.
“I suggest we stick with the isolation requirements. We don’t really want people who can infect other people,” Ferrer said.
Los Angeles Times