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Maine CDC Reduces Mandatory Quarantine Time As State Adds 290 COVID-19 Cases, 4 Deaths

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
A member of the National Guard assisting at a COVID-19 mobile testing location looks out of a tent used for drive-thru tests, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Auburn, Maine.

The State of Maine is changing its guidance on how long a person must remain in quarantine if they’ve been exposed to someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19. The announcement comes as the Maine CDC reports an additional 290 cases of COVID-19 on Friday — the second highest daily total after Thursday’s record 346 cases.

Four more people with the disease have also died, for a total of 224 deaths.

“Being in quarantine means being out of work — it means being away from your family,” says Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah.

Beginning Friday, Shah says the mandatory quarantine period will be 10 days, not 14.

The U.S. CDC has found that the quarantine period for those who had exposure to the virus can be safely reduced — something the state is choosing to adopt in an effort to lessen any negative impacts of prolonged isolation.

“Quarantine is an important public health measure. But it comes at great private cost — cost to the individual, and perhaps even on their workplace if, for example, they work in a health care setting,” Shah says.

He says the sooner a person can safely resume normal life, the better.

Shah still recommends that people who have had close contact get tested 5-7 days after the exposure, but he says a negative test will not shorten a person’s mandatory 10 day quarantine period.

And Gov. Janet Mills has extended the requirement that certain businesses close by 9 p.m. through Jan. 4.

In a written announcement, Mills says the action is intended to curb extended gatherings through the holiday season. The requirement, which was initially supposed to end on Sunday, applies to places with seated food and drink service as well as movie theaters, performing arts venues and casinos.

Mills says the state can’t afford to let its guard down as hundreds are getting sick with COVID-19 and need critical care in overburdened hospitals.

Hospitalizations are continuing to climb, with 164 people receiving inpatient care as of Friday.