The Montgomery County Health Department reports 92 new COVID-19 coronavirus cases and one more death.
The death, the 21st in the county, was the third this month, a month in which 499 new COVID cases have been confirmed heading into the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks. As of Wednesday, Dec. 23, the positivity rate for the week is 8.3 percent.
In early December, the federal Center for Disease Control changed the length and some of the guidelines on quarantine for people who have been exposed to the COVID-19 vaccine.
At the outset of the pandemic, the quarantine period was established to reduce the risk that an infected person might unknowingly transmit the infection to others. However, a 14-day quarantine period may also impose personal burdens, including physical and mental health, as well as economic hardship.
Earlier this month, the CDC released new guidelines shortening the quarantine period from seven to ten days in some cases for adults only.
Montgomery County Health Department Administrator Hugh Satterlee said that the quarantine period has been shortened in some cases, but said compliance with the health department is still of the utmost importance.
Adults who show no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 may be released from their quarantine in ten days with no COVID test, as long as they continue to show no signs or symptoms and check in with the health department by text, email or phone call.
There is the possibility of release from quarantine after seven days with a negative test result. Satterlee said the rapid tests are not accepted, only a PCR test. And again, individuals must show no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
“If the results of their COVID test come back negative, they could go back to work, as long as they continue to speak with health department officials,” Satterlee said. “We will continue to monitor them for a full 14 days.”
Satterlee added that they have had a case where an adult tested positive for the virus after ten days, but that it’s not the norm.
“We aren’t saying it can’t happen, but the chances are a lot lower,” Satterlee said. “The CDC is trying to make it so people are more willing to stay in quarantine for at least seven days.”
However, while these guidelines will work for adults, they do not apply to any children, up to age 18 at this time. Satterlee said he has been in contact with all four county school districts about that.
“The reason behind that is that we have seen an uptick in cases of younger people,” Satterlee said. “Kids are becoming more prevalent in testing positive. At this time, we have not had any known linkage of spread within any of the schools, and we’d like to keep it that way. Why try to fix what’s already working?”
Satterlee said that he’s very proud of county school districts for maintaining in-person learning and keeping students and staff as safe as possible throughout the pandemic.