Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit is recommending people who have been exposed to COVID-19, but are symptom-free, quarantine themselves for 10 days. File photo by Daniel Thompson/The Uptown Observer.

KENOSHA COUNTY ⏤ The Kenosha County Division of Health Monday unveiled a new 10-day isolation period protocol for those exposed to COVID-19.

However, the 10-day quarantine window only applies to those who are symptom-free. Those who show symptoms are encouraged to follow the 14-day quarantine protocol.

“Kenosha County supports the 10-day quarantine for close contacts, as long as they remain symptom-free,” said Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit. “Ideally, this earlier release from quarantine would come with a negative test result.

“Those who are not tested should continue to self-monitor for symptoms for an additional four days if they elect to come out of quarantine after Day 10.”

The new county protocols note that, to ensure maximum accuracy, testing should not occur until six days after an individual’s last contact with a COVID-19-positive case.

The new protocols take effect Tuesday, Dec. 8. 

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CDC protocol change

A county release explained that the new protocol was based on CDC coronavirus changes last week.

In its changes, the CDC condensed the quarantine period to seven days with a negative test result. Those who do not get a test would quarantine for 10 days.

“While noting that a reduced quarantine period may make it easier for people to quarantine by reducing economic hardship for people who cannot work during that time, the CDC continues to endorse the full, 14-day quarantine as the safest alternative, as the incubation period for the COVID-19 virus is two to 14 days,” the county release states. 

However, the CDC deferred the final decision on quarantine lengths to county health departments.

Negative results must come from testing site

Freiheit also noted the county cannot provide residents with evidence of their negative test results.

“Test results may be obtained via email when tested at a Wisconsin National Guard testing site or should be requested from the medical facility that ordered testing,” Freiheit noted.

The county also defined close COVID-19 contacts as you:

  • were within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for 15 or minutes or more in a given day;
  • provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19;
  • had direct physical contact with the person (handshake, hug, kiss, etc.);
  • shared eating or drinking utensils;
  • Or a COVID-19 positive person sneezed, coughed or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.

Household cases, those already positive

Those exposed at home who cannot separate entirely from the infected person should continue their quarantine for at least 10 days. The exposed person should begin quarantine after the COVID-19 positive person has ended their quarantine.

Complete separation means spending no time together in the same room. This includes no sharing of any spaces, such as using the same bathroom. 

The new protocols do not apply to people who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days, as long as they do not develop symptoms again.

People who develop symptoms within 90 days of their first bout of the virus may need to be tested.

The county advises them to follow the recommendation of their physician.

‘So we can eradicate the virus’

Freiheit said the recommended protocols will help greatly to lessen the spread of COVID-19 in the community. 

“I know that these guidelines can be confusing, and that they can cause great hardships for individuals and families,” she said.

“But these are best practices that are rooted in science, and we’re asking the community to follow them — for their own health and safety, and so we can eradicate this virus as quickly as possible.” 

For resources and guidance pertaining to quarantine and other COVID-19 information, visit the Kenosha County COVID-19 Response Hub at www.kenoshacounty.org/covid-19.

You can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov.

For other questions, call the Kenosha County Health Department at 262-605-6700 or email COVID-19@kenoshacounty.org.

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Daniel Thompson is an independent journalist and the founder of The Uptown Observer based in the Kenosha, Wis., area. He started in journalism at the Western Nebraska Observer in 2012 and, most notably,...