COVID-19 Resources

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November 30, 2020

Recommendations for Industry

Is COVID-19’s Third Wave Bringing New Quarantine/Isolation Scenarios?

On the global level, the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to show signs of flattening. For example, in the U.K., which is about to emerge from a one-month lockdown, COVID numbers are clearly decreasing.


In the U.S., we also see a bit of a flattening; however, this is may be due to a decreased number of people seeking testing during the Thanksgiving holiday. Additionally, we fully expect to see an increase in the U.S. due to Americans' continuing trend to travel for the holidays. So while we do currently need to be especially vigilant in the U.S., there is an element of encouraging news globally.


Adding to that encouragement is the potential of some strategies that may change for symptomatic isolation and close contact quarantine, as discussed in two recent articles:

  • The Lancet – In a systematic review and meta-analysis of COVID studies, no studies found detectable live virus past day 9 of illness, even with persistently high viral loads. Additionally, SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the upper respiratory tract appeared to peak in the first week of illness. However, some extremely ill persons could shed the virus for up to 20 days.

  • N.Y. Times – Based on the Lancet study, a NYT article asked, “Should public health officials shorten the recommended isolation time if it means more infected people will cooperate? Or should officials opt for longer periods in order to prevent transmission in virtually all cases, even if doing so takes a harsher toll on the economy?”

  • Wall Street Journal – Citing “people familiar with the matter,” WSJ states, “ Public-health officials at the CDC and state health departments are collecting and analyzing data to study whether it is possible to condense the 14-day period during which children are advised to stay home after coming in contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19.”


While the CDC has not published an official change to its current 14-day quarantine and 10-day isolation recommendations, there have been numerous reports that shortened timelines are under consideration. There is hope that the potential recommendations may more closely match the findings and periods from other studies. This could help increase individual compliance and enable businesses to allow employees to return to work sooner.

Keep up to date with COVID-19:

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