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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The CDC has shortened its recommended isolation and quarantine period for COVID-19 patients. Those who test positive can shorten their isolation period from 10 to five days.

“We know now that most tests in the country are the omicron variant,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Chief Covid Officer.

It is some good news for those who recently received a positive COVID-19 test.

As of Monday, if you test positive and are asymptomatic or no longer showing symptoms, you can shorten your isolation period from 10 to five days.

This decision was driven by a holiday surge in COVID-19 cases, thanks to the highly transmissible omicron variant.

“One of the things that we know about the Omicron variant is that the incubation time is very short. In other words, when you get exposed to that virus, it starts growing very rapidly and you start shedding virus quite quickly,” Bratzler said.

The CDC also says those who are unvaccinated or haven’t gotten their second shot should quarantine for five days, followed by five more days of strict mask usage.

“If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re fully vaccinated and you’ve had your booster dose. You don’t have to quarantine. They do recommend that you wear a mask for ten days just in case you have a breakthrough infection, so you don’t spread it,” Bratzler said.

Over the Christmas holiday, planes were left grounded and flights were canceled as airline workers tested positive or were forced to quarantine due to exposure. 

“They’ve had so many canceled flights and it’s for this explicit reason. People were testing positive, people that work for them,” Bratzler said. “Quarantine was two weeks, isolation was ten days, and it makes it very difficult to maintain workforce continuity if you have all of these people in either isolation and quarantine.”

Just last week, the CDC also updated its guidance for health care workers with COVID-19. If you show no symptoms or have mild symptoms, you can now return to work after seven days if you test negative for infection at that point.

“You know, the example I’ve given is if we lost 10% of our nursing workforce in this state because they were in isolation or quarantine, we would be in real trouble right now,” Bratzler said.

The guidance is not a mandate; it’s a recommendation to employers and state and local officials.