Assessment of Day-7 Postexposure Testing of Asymptomatic Contacts of COVID-19 Patients to Evaluate Early Release from Quarantine — Vermont, May–November 2020
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Assessment of Day-7 Postexposure Testing of Asymptomatic Contacts of COVID-19 Patients to Evaluate Early Release from Quarantine — Vermont, May–November 2020

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      MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
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      On May 8, 2020, the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) issued a Health Update* recommending shortening the duration of quarantine for persons exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Exposed persons who were in quarantine could be tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on or after quarantine day 7. Those who had remained asymptomatic throughout quarantine and who received a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result on or after day 7 could end quarantine. This policy was based on a report suggesting that symptom onset occurs within this time frame in approximately three quarters of COVID-19 cases (1) and on consultation of the Vermont Health Commissioner with the U.S. Surgeon General. VDH implemented this policy to minimize restrictions on state residents, recognizing that some reduction could occur in the prevention benefit of quarantine to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2. State-run SARS-CoV-2 testing sites were made available to increase access to no-cost testing and facilitate implementation of this policy. During August 1-December 1, among persons seeking testing at a VDH SARS-CoV-2 testing site, 36% stated that their reason for seeking testing was to end quarantine early (VDH, unpublished data, December 7, 2020), indicating that persons were aware of and following the policy and using the testing services provided. To assess the effectiveness of this policy, VDH analyzed testing data for contacts of persons with a COVID-19 diagnosis. During May 8-November 16, VDH identified 8,798 exposed contacts of COVID-19 patients; 3,983 (45%) had sought testing within 14 days of their exposure, with day 0 defined as the date of last exposure noted in the case investigation record. Among these persons, 2,200 (55%) who received testing on days 7-10 were included in this analysis; 977 (44.9%) of these contacts had a specimen collected for testing on day 7. Among these, 34 (3%) had test results that were positive, 940 (96%) had results that were negative, and three (<1%) had results that were indeterminate (Table). Among the 34 contacts who received a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result on day 7 after exposure, 12 (35%) were asymptomatic. The remaining 22 contacts with positive test results were symptomatic at the time of testing; approximately one half had developed symptoms on days 4-7 after exposure. Among the 940 contacts who received negative test results on specimens collected on day 7 after exposure, 154 (16%) had a subsequent test within the next 7 days (i.e., days 8-14); among these, 152 (99%) had tests that remained negative, and two (1%) had results that were indeterminate.
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