WATERTOWN — The Jefferson County Public Health Service earlier this week sent out new COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance in the form of a flowchart adapted from the Onondaga County Health Department for those who test positive for COVID-19 and those who have been a close contact of an infected person.
A close contact is defined as someone who was less than six feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. In K-12 schools, this excludes students who were between three and six feet of one another with proper masking.
According to the flowchart, if you’re a close contact of a positive case, are not experiencing any symptoms, haven’t recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days and are unvaccinated, you must quarantine for at least five days, wear a fitting mask around other people for a period of 10 days after exposure, and if possible, get tested at least five days after exposure.
Students in grades K-12 may continue in-classroom activities, but must quarantine outside of school and cannot participate in extracurricular or after school activities.
According to Faith E. Lustik, Jefferson County health planner, transmission among school aged children is being identified in extracurricular activities that are not as closely monitored as classroom settings and households. Schools require everyone to wear a mask and socially distance; frequently touched surfaces are cleaned frequently; staff distance by at least six feet from students; unvaccinated staff are tested for COVID weekly; children or staff are sent home if they have any symptoms; and everyone is screened for symptoms daily.
For those experiencing symptoms, they are advised to isolate and get tested immediately. If positive, the flowchart says to isolate for at least five days regardless of vaccination status, notify close contacts, and wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days.
Symptomatic people are advised to stay in isolation until symptoms are improving and until they are fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. If symptoms are getting worse, call your doctor for guidance and treatment options. This is the same protocol if you’ve just tested positive for COVID-19.
If you test negative, test again five days after exposure. If negative again, you can end quarantine. If positive, continue to isolate. If you’re a close contact, but not experiencing symptoms and have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days, you do not have to quarantine, but should wear a well-fitting mask around other people for 10 days from exposure and if possible, get tested at least five days after exposure — unless you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days as you can continue to test positive for up to three months.
Those who are fully vaccinated and received their booster at least two weeks before they were exposed don’t have to quarantine. For self-attestation forms and detailed guidance about isolation and quarantine and when you can be released, visit www.jcphs.org.