RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia has changed its quarantine guidelines for those exposed to COVID-19, moving away from federal health recommendations for people who had a confirmed case within the last six months.
In situations considered “non-high risk,” someone exposed to COVID-19 won’t be recommended to quarantine if they recovered from a positive case within the last six months or if they are up to date on their vaccines, the Virginia Department of Health announced Thursday.
Instead, the VDH suggests they follow isolation rules if they experience any symptoms. The recommendation change applies to the general public, including at K-12 schools and other early education settings.
“Note that this varies slightly from CDC guidance, which defines the post-infection immunity period as 90 days,” Colin Greene, the commissioner of the VDH, said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend people up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines to quarantine and if someone tested positive using a viral test within the last 90 days, which is half as long as what VDH is now suggesting.
“As COVID continues its progression from an acute pandemic to a more endemic state, we must continually reassess our recommendations to the public and our fellow agencies, considering not only potential disease effects, but also unintended non-clinical consequences of any restrictions,” Greene continued.
Greene pointed to CDC data suggesting that over 75% of children have had a previous infection and possess immunity and rates of immunity for adults, through vaccines or post-infection, “likely exceeds 90%.”
“Out of an abundance of caution, we will retain the 90-day standard for higher-risk situations, including healthcare workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters,” Greene, Virginia’s new chief public health official, added.
The guideline change won’t impact VDH’s case surveillance or case classification process for reporting cases to the CDC, according to Greene. Isolation recommendations for people with an active case or asymptotic positive test were not changed.
Virginia reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases and two new deaths overnight, as concerns about a rise in case counts continue.
But a two-week blackout period that started on June 6 that VDH is attributing to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics not returning death certificates that are submitted by states has led to “fewer COVID-19-associated deaths” being added to the VDH dashboard.