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San Diego County follows CDC guidance, asymptomatic COVID patients to isolate 5 days

Cars line up in San Marcos as Kaiser Permanente patients wait to be tested for COVID-19, Dec. 28, 2021.
Brooke Ruth
Cars line up in San Marcos as Kaiser Permanente patients wait to be tested for COVID-19, Dec. 28, 2021.

Despite a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over the weekend, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Tuesday followed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance recommending people testing positive for the virus isolate for just five days, rather than the previous 10.

This guidance, which also aligns with the California Department of Public Health, applies to those who are asymptomatic. In addition to the decreased isolation period, the new recommendation says COVID-19 patients with no symptoms must wear a mask for another five days when around other people.

"The county is following the CDC guidance because science shows the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, typically 1-2 days prior to developing symptoms and the 2-3 days after," said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. "People with no symptoms can leave isolation after that, provided they wear an appropriate mask to decrease the risk to others."


The updated recommendations follow President Joe Biden declaring on Monday, "there is no federal solution. This gets solved at a state level."

He pledged federal support to states as they grapple with the surging Omicron variant.

Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to the president, on Monday implied the 10 day isolation period was guided by economic concerns.

"Because there are a lot of people in society that are essential for the smooth running of the infrastructure of our society," Fauci told CNN. "So the idea about cutting down the period of quarantine for people who have been exposed, and perhaps the period of isolation for people who have been infected, is something that is under, I would say, serious consideration."

San Diego County's number of coronavirus cases surged over the weekend, officials said, while the number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 surpassed 400.


Local health officials reported 2,367 cases Tuesday, following 1,678 new cases on Saturday, 1,252 Sunday and 2,681 Monday. The county also reported three additional fatalities linked to COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing its cumulative totals to 416,424 infections and 4,445 deaths since the pandemic began.

The county has reported a considerable increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days, with daily case counts reaching more than 2,300 cases four out of the past six days.

"The new guidance also works to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, which has led to a significant increase in cases nationally and in San Diego County," Wooten said.

The county's COVID hospitalizations increased from 384 Sunday to 411, while the number of those patients in intensive care increased from 92 to 96, according to the latest state figures.

A total of 7,227 tests were reported in San Diego County over the weekend, and the seven-day average positivity rate was 11.3%, up from 7.4% as of Thursday.

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