HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is following the recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in cutting isolation restrictions for those who catch COVID-19 from 10 days to five days.
The changes take effect on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022 for all DOH directed isolation and quarantine.
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“The guidance also acknowledges the waning immunity we are seeing with time after initial vaccination,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said in a statement on Wednesday, Dec. 29. “There is still much we do not know about transmission dynamics of the omicron variant. We will continue to follow the science.”
In a Zoom meeting also on Wednesday, Gov. David Ige discussed these changes, along with other COVID-related matters, with state health director Dr. Elizabeth Char and Kauai District health officer Dr. Janet Berreman.
Gov. Ige said the state’s indoor mask policy remains in effect and encourages those who have not gotten their booster yet to schedule an appointment soon.
“Vaccinations and boosters are some of the best tools we have to fight COVID-19,” said Gov. Ige.
In the meeting, Dr. Elizabeth Char noted that indoor gatherings, as well as not wearing masks are considered high-risk acts and activities. She said having smaller gatherings can also help to reduce the risk.
“If you can take it outdoors, that’s a better thing to do,” explained Dr. Char.
Regarding children in schools, Kauai District health officer Dr. Janet Berreman said that the layered approach in Department of Education schools has been successful as it continues to be effective in minimizing transmission.
“The safety for the kids in schools is that they are evaluated, observed. It’s a structured environment, wearing masks,” Dr. Char said.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay home from work, school and other activities, even if the symptoms are mild. The DOH breaks down the following changes below:
If COVID-19 positive regardless of vaccination status
- Isolate for at least five days and until symptoms are gone.
- Continue to wear a mask for five days after isolation.
- Those who continue to feel sick must remain in isolation.
If exposed to COVID-19
- Boosted, or fully vaccinated within past six months (or within past 2 months if J&J)
- No need to quarantine
- Wear a mask for ten days
- Get tested on day five
- Neither boosted nor fully vaccinated
- Quarantine for five days
- Wear a mask for five days after quarantine
- Get tested on day five
- If you become symptomatic at any point, get tested.
The DOH has yet to publish its updated guidance to take effect on Monday, but state health director Dr. Elizabeth Char said that mask-wearing is a key part of it.
“The new policies underscore the benefits of booster shots,” she said in a statement. “People who are boosted and do not have symptoms will not need to quarantine after exposure to someone who is COVID positive.”
According to the CDC, early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus. However, the sheer number of people becoming infected — and therefore having to isolate or quarantine — threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say. Click here for details.
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines and boosters
Local health officials continue to encourage people to get vaccinated and get their booster shots.