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Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

SALISBURY — People with a COVID-19 exposure are now being advised to quarantine 10 days, down from a full two weeks.

On Thursday, the Rowan County Health Department lowered the local quarantine recommendation, citing the small increase in infection risk as a result of ending quarantine early.

A news release from the department said quarantine is a public health tool used in other highly contagious conditions to prevent spread.

The state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a 14-day quarantine period, but local authorities have been given the option to opt for a 10-day period.

The health department says reducing the number of quarantine days may make it easier for people to comply during the highest risk time of infection. The department plans to monitor local metrics on total cases, active cases, the percent of people testing positive and hospitalizations.

People are urged to continue monitoring themselves for the remaining days and isolate if other symptoms develop, as well as contact the department or health care provider.

The health department is encouraging residents to get vaccinated, continue wearing masks, maintain social distance, wash their hands and avoid crowds.

Department Public Health Education Specialist Amy Smith said the change was based on research showing only 2% of people who are exposed and do not develop an infection after 10 days will end up being infected.

COVID-19 spreads more in confined spaces, crowds and when in close contact with other people.

The state now allows quarantine durations to be lowered to seven days for public school students, but Interim Health Director Alyssa Harris said the department is continuing with a 10-day period for schools. She said based on county vaccination rates and active case loads the department does not think it would be appropriate to lower it.

“Our job, first and foremost, is to keep people safe and prevent the spread disease,” Harris said.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools reached an all-time high for student quarantines last week and notified Granite Quarry Elementary School about a cluster of five student infections there.

More than two thirds of Rowan County residents – nearly 100,000 people – have yet to be vaccinated.

Vaccines are available at a number of local pharmacies in Salisbury including Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Food Lion, Moose Pharmacy, local family practices, clinics and via the health department.

You can find vaccines in stock at vaccines.gov.

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