To ensure we are equipping our readers with all the information they need, we will continue to report on all travel, safety, and COVID-related news that could impact a Disney Parks visit.
As the situation with COVID-19 continues to change and develop, we’ve seen modifications made to various regulations and rules.
At Universal Orlando, a change in the mask rules recently went into effect. We’ve also seen lots of news shared about the Omicron variant and how it could impact travel and more. Now, we’ve seen another change announced related to COVID-19 and it has to do specifically with quarantine and isolation recommendations for those who test positive for the virus.
According to a media statement released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) on Monday, December 27th, 2021, the CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
According to the updated rules, the recommended time for isolation for those who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic is now 5 days, down from the previous recommendation of 10 days.
The CDC then notes that those 5 days of isolation should be followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. According to the CDC’s media statement, this change is due to science that indicates that the majority of the transmission of COVID-19 occurs in the early course of the illness — usually 1-2 days prior to the start of symptoms, and 2-3 days after.
In summary, the CDC notes that those who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they can then leave isolation and wear a mask for the following 5 days.
The CDC has also indicated that individuals who are experiencing symptoms can leave isolation after 5 days if their symptoms are “resolving.” If an individual has a fever, the CDC recommends that the individual continue to stay home until that fever is resolved.
These are the recommendations for those who test positive for COVID-19, but what about those who have been exposed to COVID-19? The CDC has updated those quarantine guidelines too.
For individuals who are unvaccinated or are more than 6 months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months out from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and not yet boosted, the CDC recommends a quarantine of 5 days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, followed by strict mask usage for another 5 days.
What if a 5-day quarantine isn’t feasible for someone? The CDC notes that if that is the case, it’s “imperative” that the person who has been exposed wears a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after they were exposed.
What if an individual has received their COVID-19 booster shot and then gets exposed to COVID-19? Or those who have received their second mRNA dose within the last 6 months (or received the Johnson & Johnson shot within the last 2 months)? The CDC notes that individuals do not need to quarantine following an exposure if they’ve had their booster shot or fall into those other specified categories. But those individuals should wear a mask around others for 10 days following the exposure.
The CDC also notes that for anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 the best practice is to get a COVID-19 test at day 5 after exposure. Also note that if the individual is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should immediately quarantine until they get a negative COVID-19 test to show that the symptoms are not due to the COVID-19 virus.
According to the CDC, “Data from South Africa and the United Kingdom demonstrate that vaccine effectiveness against infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is approximately 35%. A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores vaccine effectiveness against infection to 75%.”
These changes come as the Omicron COVID-19 variant continues to impact individuals in the United States and beyond.
According to NBC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci has indicated that these new guidelines take “into account both public health data and worker shortages.” Dr. Fauci said, “You have so many people simultaneously testing positive you want to make sure that, particularly among essential workers, that you get people out there much sooner…So you can keep people safe from getting infected from you, if you still are infected, but at the same time getting you back to what might be an essential function in society.”
Fauci indicated that “On balance, if you look at the safety of the public, and the need to have society not disrupted, this was a good choice.”
Just last week the CDC had adjusted its isolation recommendations for health care workers who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic. NBC News shares that the CDC had indicated that “health care workers can return to work after seven days and a negative test, adding that ‘isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.'” Additionally, the CDC had shared that “Health care workers who have received both vaccine doses, including a booster, do not need to quarantine following a high-risk exposure.”
Some states had also adjusted their isolation requirements for essential workers to address staffing concerns.
According to the Boston Globe, there have been some mixed reactions to the CDC’s updated recommendations. The Boston Globe notes that many have agreed that the recommendations are in line with the evidence showing when the virus is most infections, but some experts have noted that the CDC left out a key element to truly ensure an individual is COVID-free when ending quarantine — a negative COVID test.
The Boston Globe shares that “CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the new guidance is meant to help prevent another economic shutdown and keep businesses open.”
She was quoted telling the Associated Press, “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.” Others, however, have praised the CDC’s changes or called them “reasonable.”
According to WDWMagic, these changes are also now affecting Disney World Cast Members. Those who need to be quarantined should be isolated for 5 days, then wear a mask for 5 days upon returning to work.
If you have a question about what guidelines may apply to you, click here to read the full media release from the CDC. Of course, this situation is subject to change again. We’ll keep an eye out for more updates.