California health officials: Asymptomatic people exposed to COVID don't need to quarantine

In the latest pandemic shift in California, state health officials now say asymptomatic people who are exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine anymore.

Previously, anyone who was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 had to quarantine for five days, even if they did not show symptoms.

Now, the new recommendation could lead to a relaxation of similar rules in Los Angeles County.

As the virus "has evolved to have a shorter incubation period (e.g., average 2-3 days), usually by the time identified exposed contacts are notified, their incubation period is over and the most relevant time period for restricting movement by quarantine has passed," the California Department of Public Health said in an April 6 memo.

"In addition, we are now transitioning to a phase in the pandemic where many in our communities have been vaccinated against and/or previously infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19; transmission is at lower levels than earlier this year during the surge caused by the Omicron variant; and effective vaccines and treatment options are available to reduce the severity of disease and resulting hospitalizations, deaths, and stress on our infrastructure and healthcare systems."

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Despite the BA.2 variant leading to a rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide, health officials say fewer people are hospitalized for COVID that at any time since the start of the pandemic.

L.A. County health officials have noted that while daily case numbers have been rising, hospitalizations and deaths are still low.

On Wednesday, state figures showed 256 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals, down from 270 on Tuesday. Of those patients, 35 were being treated in intensive care units, down slightly from 36 a day earlier.

The county reported another 973 infections on Wednesday, raising the cumulative pandemic total to 2,848,030. Another 11 deaths were also reported, lifting the virus-related death toll to 31,830.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus ticked upward to 1.3% as of Wednesday, up from the roughly 1% rate of the past week.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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