(Photo via Yassine Khalfalli/Unsplash)

Santa Clara County released new COVID-19 quarantine guidance on Monday, which shortens the length of quarantine from 14 to 10 days.

The new guidance applies to both close contacts of COVID-19 cases and those subject to the county’s mandatory travel quarantine.

“We constantly want to take into account all the best science we have,” said Dr. Sarah Rudman, assistant health officer and director of case investigation and contact tracing. “We feel the science that the CDC shared with us over the last several weeks confirmed by the California Department of Public Health’s review tells us there is a minimum loss of safety by making the change from 14 to 10 days.”

Essentially, the new guidelines are about finding the balance between the benefit of quarantining and the benefit of getting people back to school or work, Rudman said.
But just because the quarantine period is shorter does not mean that there is a reduced risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.

“Although the quarantine period is now shorter, it is critical that everyone continues to closely monitor for symptoms throughout the full two weeks,” Rudman said.

This is because, while rare, there is still a chance of infection happening after the 10 days of post-exposure.

The new guidance also recommends that asymptomatic close contacts be tested after 6 days or more from last exposure. If testing is done earlier than day 6, then they should get tested again toward the end of the 10-day period.

“We are in a critical phase of our response to the pandemic and, especially as cases continue to increase rapidly across our region, we need everyone to closely follow public health guidelines to slow the spread of the virus,” Rudman said.

The new guidelines come as the county experiences its largest COVID-19 surge to date with more than 2,000 cases reported over the weekend.

But it is not all bad news, as 17,550 doses of Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in Santa Clara County this week, Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, COVID-19 testing officer said.

The first group of people to get the vaccine will be health care workers and residents of skilled nursing facilities, as set by the state and federal government.

“This is only the very first allocation and many more vaccines will be coming over the next several weeks and months to eventually vaccinate everyone in our community,” Fenstersheib said.

The next allotment of vaccines is likely 39,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by next week, pending the approval by the federal government.

“We are hoping these vaccines eventually spell the end of this pandemic. Let’s all stay safe and be patient while we wait our turn to receive the vaccine,” Fenstersheib said.

Everyone, including those who get vaccinated, will still be required to avoid gatherings, postpone travel, wear face masks, and stay home as much as possible.

More information on home isolation and quarantine guidance can be found at https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/contact-tracing.aspx?mc_cid=7421741f7a&mc_eid=882534314e#need-test.

To find more information about testing and testing sites, visit www.sccfreetest.org.