By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing new recommendations that shorten the amount of time people exposed to the coronavirus need to stay in quarantine. So what has changed?

Until now, asymptomatic people who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 were told to stay home for 14 days since it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to appear after exposure.

But the CDC is now saying there are two ways people can come out of quarantine sooner – at 10 days if they don’t develop any symptoms, like fever and cough or at seven days post-exposure if they test negative in the final two days of that period.

Of course, they still need to wear masks and keep physical distance when they return to their daily activities.

Is the CDC taking this step because the incubation period is actually shorter than 14 days?

No. People can still develop symptoms 14 days after exposure or even longer, but most people will do so within seven days. And as you know, it’s hard not to leave the house for two weeks, missing work and possibly income, and a lot of people break the rules, which threatens public health.

The hope is that a 7-10 day quarantine will capture most people while they are infectious and lead to better compliance which will in turn help stop the spread of the virus.

Dr. Mallika Marshall