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Franklin County updates guidelines, allowing shorter quarantine for close contacts

If a close contact is asymptomatic, they may now leave quarantine after 10 days, the health department said
Credit: KSDK

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. — The Franklin County Health Department announced Wednesday that it has modified its COVID-19 quarantine guidance for close contacts after the CDC released updated guidance last week.

While the health department still recommends a 14-day quarantine, changes approved by the Franklin County Commission will allow flexibility to end quarantine after 10 full days, as long as the individuals are asymptomatic, continue to self-monitor and wear masks throughout the full 14 days. If symptoms develop, however, they should immediately isolate and contact a public health authority or healthcare provider.

The modified guidance is only for those who entered quarantine on or after Dec. 2, and the health department won't be revising or modifying any letters already provided. Isolation requirements for people who are COVID-19 positive or symptomatic close contacts have not changed.

"As we move forward, it is important to note the CDC still recommends a full 14-day quarantine," Health Department Director Angie Hittson said in a Wednesday press release. "The options presented are just that, options that local public health departments can adopt to provide flexibility. It is essential that these decisions take into consideration local data, community transmission and capacity issues."

RELATED: CDC shortens quarantine guideline to 10 days; 7 days with negative test

The revised CDC guidelines, released Dec. 2, also give the option for close contacts to resume normal activities in seven days if they receive a negative test result. Franklin County will not implement that option at this time.

"In Franklin County, diagnostic testing is not always sufficient or widely available for everyone in the community," Hittson said. "In addition, daily monitoring and masking through day 14 is a protective measure that is absolutely critical but will likely not be followed leaving our community at risk."

The county reported 69 new coronavirus cases Wednesday. As of Tuesday, 5,663 people have tested positive in the county since the pandemic began. Ninety-four people have died. 

On Dec. 2, the health department said it was changing its contact tracing protocols due to new cases that are "well beyond our capacity to reach out to every case and every contact."

A county mask order went into effect on Nov. 20 and is currently set to expire on Dec. 20.