Wausau Pilot & Review

NEWS RELEASE – On Tuesday, January 4, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) posted updated COVID-19 quarantine and isolation guidance. With the Omicron variant surging throughout Wisconsin and the United States, these recommendations are motivated by the latest science on the severity of disease, when transmission occurs, and for the maximum time a person remains infectious.

View the full updated COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html

Summary of new guidance:

Updated Isolation Recommendations (for those who have tested positive for COVID-19):

CDC has shortened the recommended length of isolation for people with COVID-19 from 10 days to 5 days, provided they are fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms are resolving. This must be followed by 5 days of wearing a well-fitting mask around others.

Updated Quarantine Recommendations (for those who have been exposed to COVID-19):

People who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine and have not yet received a booster dose should:

  • Quarantine for 5 days following exposure and wear a well-fitting mask when around other people for an additional 5 days.

People who meet one of the following criteria do not need to quarantine if symptoms are not present after exposure to COVID-19, but should wear a well-fitting mask when around other people for 10 days:

  • Have completed their primary mRNA vaccine series within the last 6 months, OR
  • Have been fully vaccinated with a J&J vaccine within the last two months, OR
  • Have received a booster more than two weeks prior to the exposure.
  • Are under 18 years of age and received their primary mRNA vaccine series.

Following an exposure to COVID-19, everyone, regardless of vaccination status:

  • Should get tested for COVID-19 on day 5, if possible, after exposure.
  • Quarantine immediately if any symptoms develop until they receive a negative COVID-19 test confirming symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

This new guidance applies to the general population in the community, including workplaces and K-12 schools. To accompany the guidance, the CDC has developed a corresponding rationale and FAQsThis guidance does not apply to healthcare personnel, correctional institutions, or homeless shelters. Additional updates for these settings will be forthcoming. 

The public health officers in Marathon, Wood, and Portage Counties are all urging residents to take appropriate measures to lower the risk of being exposed to the Omicron variant, which is much more transmissible than the Delta variant that has placed our state’s health care systems into an increasingly precarious position. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown”. The CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.

The CDC and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services provide these recommendations:

  • Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself from severe illness, hospitalization, or death.
    • COVID-19 vaccines are FREE and widely available in Central Wisconsin to everyone 5 years of age and older. For information on where to get a vaccine, go to vaccines.gov.                              
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.
  • In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings if six feet of physical distance can be maintained.
  • In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
  • People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
  • Consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with others who are not in your household.
    • A positive self-test result means that you have an infection and should avoid indoor gatherings to reduce the risk of spreading disease to someone else.
    • A negative self-test result means that you may not have an infection. Repeating the test with at least 24 hours between tests will increase the confidence that you are not infected.
    • Ask your healthcare provider if you need help interpreting your test results.

If you have questions or immediate needs related to COVID-19, call 2-1-1 or text COVID-19 to 211-211. For additional information, visit your respective county’s COVID-19 Webpage: