CDC shortens quarantine period; warns against travel

The CDC on Wednesday for the first time said a shorter quarantine period of seven days with a negative COVID-19 test or 10 days without a test could work for people exposed to COVID-19 but showing no symptoms, and warned against upcoming holiday travel.

The new recommendations came as the head of the CDC - Director Robert Redfield in an event with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - warned the COVID health crisis could be the worst the nation has ever seen.

(CDC Director Robert Redfield): "December, January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation."

With cases soaring and hospitalizations hitting records and stretching resources, the CDC said it still recommends a 14-day quarantine period as the best way to reduce its spread, but said it hopes that the shorter alternatives will increase compliance.

(CDC Director Robert Redfield): "That guidance is based on data that we gathered and modeling of that data that if you isolate for ten days that the probability that you will start replicating the virus after that is about one percent...We found a lot of people really don't isolate for 14 days and, you know, and I think getting people to commit to this getting out of the transmission cycle, I think is important.”

Studies show that people usually start showing symptoms of the disease within five days of exposure though up to 50% of people positive with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, CDC officials encouraged Americans to hold off on winter holiday travel and stay home, but if they did travel, to consider getting tested 1 to 3 days before travel and 3 to 5 days after.

They added that travel volume was high over Thanksgiving which could translate into 100s of thousands of additional infections.

Ahead of the expected rollout of vaccines, Redfield Wednesday encouraged the public to recommit to mitigation steps like wearing masks and social distancing to slow the spread, adding that the debate over masks and whether they work is over.