There are new rules for New Yorkers, vaccinated or unvaccinated, when it comes to COVID exposure or a positive test.

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On Christmas Eve, Gov. Hochul shortened the COVID isolation period for vaccinated healthcare workers.

New York shortened the quarantine window to five days for essential workers. Hochul announced essential workers can return to work after five days if they don't have symptoms for 72-hours and they're vaccinated, although they're then required to wear a mask.

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"Given the very high case counts during the current COVID-19 surge in NYS, the Department expects a large number of mild or asymptomatic cases in fully vaccinated persons. Imposing a full 10 days of isolation in these circumstances has the potential to substantially impact critical services including healthcare, a sector already experiencing severe staffing shortages. In general, symptoms and duration of illness in SARS-CoV-2 infections among fully vaccinated people are reduced compared with those who are unvaccinated," Hochul's new guidance stated.

On Friday, the CDC updated its COVID isolation guidance for all.

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The CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.

"Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to (the) onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others," the CDC states.

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The CDC also updated its quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19.

For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days.

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Jeffrey Hamilton
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Alternatively, if a five-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.

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Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure, the CDC states.

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Daniel Lozano Gonzalez
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For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

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"Isolation relates to behavior after a confirmed infection. Isolation for 5 days followed by wearing a well-fitting mask will minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others. Quarantine refers to the time following exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID-19. Both updates come as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S. and reflects the current science on when and for how long a person is maximally infectious," the CDC states.

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul released the following statement after the CDC updated its COVID isolation and quartine guidance.

"As we battle this winter surge, we will keep following the data and science-based public health policies to protect New Yorkers.

"That's why on Friday I announced guidance to shorten the isolation window for our critical workforce from 10 to 5 days, and I want to thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for now updating its guidance to shorten the recommended time for isolation from 10 to 5 days for everyone who is asymptomatic, as long as they wear a well-fitting mask.

"This is a critical step to support our small businesses, critical industries, and essential services as we get through this new variant."

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

Keep reading to discover answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions.

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