New CDC COVID-19 Guidelines

Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)
Alabama Emergency Response Technology (ALERT)
Health Alert Network (HAN)

July 23, 2020

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for the Duration of Isolation and Precautions for Adults with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19):

Available data shows that persons with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset. As a result, CDC has updated the guidelines for the duration of isolation and precautions for adults with COVID-19; equivalent data for children and infants is not currently available.

Duration of Isolation and Precautions:

  • Most persons with COVID-19 illness can generally discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after symptom onset and resolution of fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and improvement of other symptoms.
  • Asymptomatic persons can discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.
  • A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days that may result in the need to extend isolation and precautions for up to 20 days after symptom onset; infection control experts should be consulted with in this case.
  • With nationwide delays in obtaining results for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing, it is imperative that patients who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 understand that they must isolate at home while waiting for their diagnostic test results.

Role of PCR Testing to Discontinue Isolation or Precautions: 

  • For persons who are severely immunocompromised, a test-based strategy could be considered in consultation with infectious disease experts.
  • For all others, a test-based strategy is no longer recommended to discontinue isolation or precautions earlier than would occur in the guidelines for Duration of Isolation (above).

Role of PCR Testing after Discontinuation of Isolation or Precautions:

  • For persons who were diagnosed with symptomatic COVID-19 and remained asymptomatic after recovery, retesting is not recommended within 3 months after the date of symptom onset for the initial COVID-19 infection.
  • For persons who develop new symptoms consistent with COVID-19 in the 3 months after the date of initial symptom onset, the person may warrant retesting if an alternative etiology cannot be identified by a provider. In this case, consultation with infectious disease or infection control experts is recommended. During the evaluation, isolation may be considered based on consultation with the infection control expert, especially if symptoms develop within 14 days after close contact with an infected person.
  • For persons who never developed symptoms, the date of the first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA should be used in place of the date of symptom onset.

Role of Serologic Testing:

  • Serologic testing should not be used to establish the absence or presence of SARS-CoV-2 infection or reinfection.

For more information about the new recommendations on the duration of isolation and precautions for adults with COVID-19, please visit: