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Maine adopts US CDC guidance, shortens quarantine to 10 days

After reviewing new guidance from the U.S. CDC, the Maine CDC has decided that effective Friday, the quarantine period will be 10 days instead of 14 days.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

AUGUSTA, Maine — Earlier this week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended quarantine period after exposure to someone who is positive for COVID-19 from 14 days to 10 days. 

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah on Friday announced Maine will be adopting this guidance, effective immediately.

Shah explained the importance of quarantine and said if everyone who is exposed to the virus strictly quarantines, they would have no one to spread the virus to. He also said, however, that he understands how quarantining affects people's day-to-day lives and livelihoods, as it often hinders people's ability to work. 

CDC officials have said the policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The U.S. CDC's decision came after a review of data to see if the quarantine period could be shorter while simultaneously keeping people who have been exposed to COVID-19 from spreading it to others. They found that shortening the quarantine period is an acceptable option. 

Shah says the Maine CDC carefully reviewed the U.S. CDC's guidance and decided to change the definition of quarantine in Maine. Effective Friday, individuals who are close contacts of individuals with COVID-19 only need to quarantine for 10 days, not 14 days.

But Shah says the Maine CDC still recommends that people in quarantine get tested 5-7 days after exposure. As with before, a negative test does not shorten the 10-day quarantine period, Shah said. 

"We believe that moving from the 14-day to the 10-day quarantine window, as analyzed by U.S. CDC and as affirmed by our scientists and epidemiologists, is a move that we can make that will help people stay safe, help them reduce the likelihood of spreading it to others, while also helping them get back to those regular rhythms of daily life," Shah said during the coronavirus briefing on Friday. 

Maine's cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. On Thursday, the single-day case record was shattered with 346 additional cases. The seven-day positivity rate has more than tripled in the past 30 days from 1.5 percent to 4.87 percent. 

Shah said, "I fear that sadly this may be our new normal." 

"And even worse, I expect it to get worse, perhaps even far worse."

Representatives from the U.S. CDC spoke to reporters Wednesday and urged the public to continue to be vigilant with practices to lessen the spread of the coronavirus. These include continuing to wear a mask according to CDC guidelines, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wash hands frequently. According to the agency, the best way to prevent a strain on hospitals is to keep these best practices in mind. 

The U.S. CDC also recommends that the best way to protect yourself and others, especially during the holiday season, is to postpone travel and stay home. 

Shah said Friday that the Maine CDC has to prioritize its efforts on what will do the most good. He says there will be difficult changes coming, which they will be reviewing over the weekend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.