Contra Costa County extends isolation period for people with COVID-19

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Contra Costa coronavirus cases 'not rising as fast as the worst case scenario'
Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County, speaks at a news conference on March 23, 2020.

People who test positive for COVID-19 should remain in isolation for 10 days after symptoms begin rather than the initially mandated seven days, according to a new order issued Thursday by Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano. 

Ten days in isolation is also required for people who test positive for COVID-19 without symptoms, the order states. The updated orders define the infectious period for asymptomatic people with the virus as beginning 48 hours prior to being tested for COVID-19. Public Health staff will identify close contacts during this 48-hour period.

The order also expands the definition of close contacts to include individuals who were within six feet of a case for at least 15 minutes during the infectious period. Those who test positive are required to notify those they have recently had close contact with.

The change in isolation duration is based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how long COVID-19 patients remain infectious, Dr. Farnitano said.

“We’re learning more and more about the virus every day,” Dr. Farnitano said. “Based on our latest understanding, we want people with COVID to remain isolated a little bit longer in order to reduce the chance of infecting others.”

As of May 13, 1,080 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the county and 33 people have died as a result of infection, the County says.

Contra Costa has increased the number of staff dedicated to disease or “contact tracing” investigation from pre-COVID number of 14 to 75 since the emergence of COVID-19 in the county. The state recently allocated $800,000 to the county to hire even more disease investigators.

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