DHEC updates S.C. COVID-19 isolation, quarantine guidance following new CDC recommendations

DHEC added that they consider people who have completed their primary series, and ideally have had a booster shot if eligible, to be fully vaccinated.
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 10:28 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV/AP) – South Carolina health officials are updating their COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance following new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related: US officials recommend shorter COVID isolation, quarantine

According to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, the following recommendations are for those who test positive for COVID-19:

  • Stay home and avoid in-person contact with others for at least five days
  • If you have no symptoms after day five, you can end isolation but must wear a mask around others for five more days

DHEC has the following recommendations for those who are exposed to someone with COVID-19:

  • If you have received the vaccine doses you’re eligible for (completed initial vaccination series and booster for ages 16 and up, or completed initial vaccination series for ages 5 to 15), you don’t have to quarantine. DHEC recommends you get tested on day five and wear a mask around others for 10 days.
  • Individuals are eligible for a booster six months after completing their Pfizer or Moderna vaccination series, or two months after their single dose of Janssen.
  • If you are not vaccinated or you have completed your primary vaccination series and are booster eligible, but haven’t gotten a booster, you need to quarantine for five days. We recommend you get tested on day five and wear a mask around others for five more days.
  • If you develop symptoms, stay home and get tested
  • There are contingency options specifically for workers in health care facilities when there are staffing shortages. Exposed workers who have not received the vaccine, including a booster when eligible, may wear a mask for 10 days if quarantine is not feasible with maintaining patient care, so long as they test negative and have no symptoms. This should be a last resort option, however, when staffing is not available any other way.

According to the department, DHEC supports the CDC’s test to stay guidance for K-12 schools, though SC health leaders said they have concerns about the availability of rapid test kits, staff capacity to administer tests, and equity among districts.

DHEC added that they consider people who have completed their primary series, and ideally have had a booster shot if eligible, to be fully vaccinated.

South Carolina’s COVID-19 recommendations follow Monday’s announcement that the CDC would cut isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.

CDC officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the omicron variant.

Related: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing ahead of new year

Early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus. But the sheer number of people becoming infected — and therefore having to isolate or quarantine — threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say.

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