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COVID-19 Update: CDC Adjusts Quarantine Guidelines, Provides Guidance for School Reopening

(Ithaca, N.Y., August 12, 2022) The Tompkins County Health Department is alerting the community of recent updates to the CDC’s quarantine guidelines following exposure to COVID-19, while reminding the community of continued COVID-19 guidance as we prepare for the start of a new school year. TCHD will continue to monitor and publish data trends and inform the community of any changes to local guidance. TCHD encourages staying up to date on vaccination, wearing high-quality masks when needed, and getting tested to stop the spread and prevent severe disease.

For a reminder of current guidance, TCHD encourages community members to view a new informational video outlining up to date COVID-19 guidance.

CDC Quarantine Guidelines Post-Exposure:

  • Quarantine is no longer required post-exposure to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.
  • You should wear a high-quality mask for 5-10 days post-exposure when at home or around others in public.
  • Monitor your health for symptoms and test at day 6 post-exposure (5 full days since the date of exposure).

P-12 School Guidelines:

  • Quarantine is no longer required for those exposed to positive cases. Wearing a high-quality mask is advised for 5-10 days post-exposure, regardless of vaccination status.
  • In cases of known exposure, high-quality masks should be worn for 5-10 days.
  • Test-to-stay protocols are no longer advised by the CDC. Screen-testing (testing those without symptoms and without any known exposures) is recommended for instances when community level is High or in response to an outbreak as a method to rule out infection.
  • If positive, isolation is required for 5 days, regardless of vaccination status.

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “While the CDC’s community level for Tompkins County has consistently remained “Low” for the summer months, we anticipate that we could see a spike in new cases with the return of our student population, as we have in 2020 and in 2021. We continue to work closely with our higher education partners in preparing for student return and feel confident in the plans these organizations have in place to limit disease spread. The community can increase their confidence too by making sure they are up to date on their own vaccination status. If you are not yet vaccinated or have not received your booster, please contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy to get vaccinated as soon as you can.”

Kruppa continued, “While we await further guidance from NYS, the CDC has released guidance on P-12 school reopening, which make it easier for schools to assess their risks and take any necessary actions to protect students and staff. With these precautions in place, our intent is to move forward using the tools we know work well at reducing disease spread: stay home if sick, test for COVID-19 and follow 5-day isolation protocols if positive, maintain high standards of cleaning, wear high-quality masks if desired and as required post-exposure, and get vaccinated. Start the school year off right by making sure your child is up to date on all of their school immunizations.”

Many children need to receive vaccines during the summer to stay up-to-date and comply with school vaccination requirements. Consult the 2022-23 School Year New York State Immunization Requirements for School Entrance/Attendance and speak to your child’s primary healthcare provider for more information. If your child is uninsured, underinsured (insurance does not cover the cost of the vaccine), or is a Medicaid or Child Health Plus recipient, contact TCHD’s Immunization Clinic staff at 607-274-6604 to inquire about vaccine availability, including COVID-19 vaccines for ages 6mos+.


Get Tested if You Experience Symptoms, Self-Test Before Gathering with Others

  • If you are feeling ill or symptomatic for COVID-19, or have had a known exposure, seek a test through Cayuga Health System or your healthcare provider. Tests are free and available for Tompkins County residents at the Cayuga Health System testing site at the Shops at Ithaca Mall (40 Catherwood Rd.). Appointments are required. Go online or call: 607-319-5708.
  • Self-tests are recommended for individuals who do not have symptoms and are seeking quick results to identify infection or increase confidence that you are not positive for COVID-19.
    • A self-test can be used as a prevention measure before gathering indoors with others who are not in your household. This is especially important before gathering with individuals who are unvaccinated, older individuals, those who are immunocompromised, or individuals at greater risk of severe disease.
    • Free self-test kits can be ordered for delivery to your home via USPS or can be found locally in various locations.
    • If your self-test result is positive, Complete the Self-Test Reporting Form for Tompkins County residents. The online form will ask for basic contact information and to upload a photo of your test kit result.
  • Self-test kit expiration dates have been extended by the FDA from a 9-month shelf life to 12-months. Test kit expiration dates have been extended from a 9-month expiration date to a 12-month expiration date. Before you discard a past-date kit, please check this chart for the new extended expiration date.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate at home for at least 5 days, the period when you are most likely to be infectious. After 5 days, if your symptoms are improving, your isolation period may end, but please continue to wear a high-quality mask when around others.
  • Therapeutic treatments for COVID-19 are available through pharmacies and healthcare providers in Tompkins County. Those who test positive, especially those that are an older adult or at high risk of illness, may be eligible for treatment options that can be prescribed by a doctor. Patients seeking treatment should not contact the pharmacy directly, but instead contact their primary care physician to receive a prescription. Anyone who does not currently have a primary care physician or who is uninsured and seeking a local provider should call 2-1-1 (1-877-211-8667).


Stay Up To Date on Vaccinations to Prevent Severe Disease

  • TCHD is encouraging eligible residents to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Vaccines are safe, effective, and continue to show increased protection from severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Vaccine doses are currently available at local pharmacies and primary care offices. Please contact your pharmacy or doctor to discuss availability or visit the TCHD website for more information.
  • Call 2-1-1 (1-877-211-8667) for additional information or for assistance with registration.
  • Everyone ages 6mos+ is eligible to be vaccinated.
  • Everyone ages 5+ is eligible for a booster dose:
    • Ages 5 years and older who received their Pfizer-BioNTech initial vaccine series at least five (5) months ago are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster (3 months for individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised).
    • Ages 18 years and older who received the Moderna initial vaccine series at least five (5) months ago or the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two (2) months ago are eligible for a booster dose (3 months and 2 months respectively for individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised).
    • mRNA vaccines, either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, are recommended over the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in most situations for ages 18+.
  • The following are eligible for a 2nd COVID-19 vaccine booster with Moderna:
    • Adults ages 50 years and older may choose to receive a second booster dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least four months after their first booster dose.
    • Adults ages 18–49 years who received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as both their primary series dose and initial booster dose may receive a second booster dose of an mRNA vaccine at least 4 months after their first booster dose.

High-Quality Masks Provide Protection

  • High-quality masks (KN95 or N95) continue to be one of the best ways to protect yourself and others.
  • High-quality KN95 masks are freely available to the community. Please refer to the TCHD website or call 2-1-1 (1-877-211-8667) for information on where these masks are available.
  • For more information on how to most effectively wear a KN95 mask, TCHD has published a video with instructions.
  • Any individual may choose to wear a mask in any situation based on personal preference.
  • Individuals should wear a high-quality mask for at least 5 days post-exposure to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, wear a high-quality mask for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or the date of your positive test (whichever comes first), whenever you must be around others at home and in public.
  • TCHD continues to recommend that you wear a mask when you are around others:
    • Who are ill
    • Who may not be vaccinated against COVID-19
    • Who are at high risk of severe illness
    • If you are immunocompromised or at high risk of severe illness from the virus
    • On public transit or in a healthcare or congregate setting as defined by New York State where masks are required

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth. Sign up to receive updates or other county announcements via email or text.

For media inquiries, contact Samantha Hillson, shillson@tompkins-co.org, 607-274-6714.

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