Giroir said at a news conference Tuesday held by the US Department of Health and Human Services that there is starting to be a “preponderance of evidence” that a shorter quarantine, complemented by a test, may be enough to slow the spread of Covid-19, and that a 14-day quarantine may no longer be necessary. He did not say specifically what shorter time period is being considered.
“We are actively working on that type of guidance right now, reviewing the evidence, but we want to make absolutely sure,” Giroir said. “Again, these kinds of recommendations aren’t willy-nilly. They’re worked on with a variety of experts.”
Giroir stressed to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” later Tuesday that the agency has not yet made a decision on the matter but that it “will be driven by data.”
“Half of people become symptomatic by day five. That’s when the virus is present. There’s a long tail of very low probability afterwards. So the postulate is … if you get a test on day seven or day 10, particularly, can that shorten your quarantine from 14 days to perhaps 10 days?” he said.
Giroir added that “people are much more likely to listen to a 10-day quarantine than a 14-day quarantine” so a potentially shorter period “might actually improve our public health responses.”
A CDC spokesperson told CNN, “CDC is always reviewing its guidance and recommendations in the light of new understandings of the virus that causes COVID-19, and will announce such changes when appropriate.”
Scores of cities and states have also required or recommended two-week quarantines for people traveling from hot spots around the US.
Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine, explained to CNN’s Erica Hill on “The Lead” that the 14-day standard intends to cover the potential incubation period of the disease, and that “if you’re going to become symptomatic it’s usually around four to six days.”
“But we know that this is a range, it’s a probability, and roughly about 90% become positive within 10 or 11 days, so possibly that’s what they’re looking at is cutting it short those extra three days because 90% of the people are going to be positive by that period,” he said.
“And even 14 days is not perfect,” Hotez added. “You still get the outliers that are positive after 20 days, so probably something along those lines to ease things up a bit.”
This story has been updated with Giroir’s comments on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”
CNN’s Nick Valencia, Sara Murray, Kristen Holmes and Arman Azad contributed to this report.