Department of Health updates isolation and quarantine guidance to align with CDC recommendations on COVID-19

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

OLYMPIA -- The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced updates to state isolation and quarantine guidance, in alignment with the newly released recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On Monday, the CDC announced the following shift in isolation and quarantine recommendations for the general public:
  • Shorten the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days;
    • if they are asymptomatic on day five, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. 
    • If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not related to COVID-19.
Recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19
  • For unvaccinated individuals or those that are more than six months from their original mRNA dose or more than two months after the J/J vaccine and not yet boosted, CDC is recommending quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for another five days.
  • Vaccinated individuals who have received their booster do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.
  • If symptoms do occur after exposure, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not related to COVID-19.
  • When in doubt, get tested on day five and as always, wear a mask when in public spaces after isolation and quarantine are complete. Also be mindful of activities, especially indoors and in crowded settings.
In addition to the changes announced Monday, due to concerns about increased transmissibility of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the CDC recently updated their work restriction recommendations for healthcare personnel (HCP)

DOH is also updating the guidelines for Washington to align with CDC recommendations. To ensure occupational health and safety, employers should refer to and follow all applicable worksite requirements outlined by the Department of Labor and Industries (L/I).

“It remains important for community members to know about changes to this guidance,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “The key remains recognizing we all have to work together to protect ourselves and those around us”.

Vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Everyone over the age of 16 is eligible for a booster dose and should get one as soon as possible. Children over the age of five should start their two-shot series immediately. To find vaccine locations near you visit Vaccine Locator,, or call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available.

DOH continues to recommend limited travel and exposure to large crowds. People should get tested if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, in the state of Washington, masking is required for all individuals when indoors in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s face covering order.

Changes to state recommendations go into effect immediately. Updates to the DOH website and other guidance documents will be completed soon.


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