The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed its guidelines around isolation and quarantine.
CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management, offers a few pointers if you or someone in your family contracts Covid-19.
If one member of the family gets diagnosed with Covid-19, what should they do next?
The person who was just diagnosed with Covid-19 should be presumed to be potentially infectious. Everybody else in the family should also get tested immediately. It’s possible that the person who tested positive was not the first person to contract Covid-19, and other members may also test positive.
What if everybody tests positive? Do they need to isolate from one another?
If everyone in your household has Covid-19, they do not need to isolate from each other. That’s because it’s highly unlikely that they have different strains of coronavirus; they probably all got the same strain from one another, and they aren’t going to reinfect each other so quickly. The entire family, of course, should be isolating from other people.
What if it’s a child who tests positive, and everybody else is testing negative? Who’s going to care for the child?
If a young child tests positive for Covid-19 and other family members are at high risk, having the child form a pod with one parent is an option.
The two different “pods” should not interact with one another during the isolation period and the parent caring for the child with Covid-19 should wear a mask when with the child to try to reduce the likelihood of getting infected themselves.
How long should someone be in isolation?
The CDC’s new guidelines essentially shorten the isolation period from 10 days to five days, with an additional five days wearing a mask. This means that you should stay fully isolated for the first five days. After that, you can go out — to work, to the grocery and so forth — but you should wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask when out in public. Don’t go to settings where you will be maskless, such as restaurants.
When it comes to people in the same family, this guidance means you really shouldn’t have meals together or have other casual, maskless encounters with uninfected members of your family in the 10-day period. If families are in two pods, the two shouldn’t mix for 10 days inside their house.
Read more tips here.