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Quarantine not needed for those in close contact with COVID-19 case if face coverings worn, latest state guidance says

The changes were announced to local health department leaders and lawmakers on Monday.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowans identified as close contacts of COVID-positive cases won't have to quarantine for 14 days if a face covering was consistently worn by both people during the exposure, according to new guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The change is significant and could reduce the number of individuals quarantining in school and workplaces across the state.

Local health department leaders and Iowa lawmakers were notified of the change on Monday. No press release was issued to the media and no additional documents were posted to the state coronavirus website as of Tuesday morning.

Department of Human Services Legislative Liason Carrie Malone informed Kris Bell, a Senior Research Analyst for the Iowa Senate Democrats, about the upcoming changes in a phone call on Monday, according to an email obtained by Local 5.

"She will be announcing new COVID-19 guidance for all non-congregate settings (that means all settings where you don't stay overnight)," Bell wrote.

That email falls in line with the press release issued by the Siouxland District Health Department on Monday afternoon. 

According to the release, as seen below, the changes do not change the isolation requirements for people that are actually sick or COVID-positive to isolate from others.

According to IDPH, the decision to change the requirements for quarantine was made "based on observations within Iowa and some other states that when the COVID-positive case and close contacts were both wearing face coverings at the time of exposure, the contacts were much less likely to develop an illness or later test positive."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has different guidance for who should quarantine. 

"People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19—excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months," the CDC advises on its website.

The CDC also notes that anyone believed to be a close contact or exposed to a positive individual to stay home for 14 days. 

IDPH did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Local 5.