Health Highlights, Dec. 2, 2020

Below are newsworthy items compiled by the Healthday staff:


CDC To Shorten Recommended Quarantine Period

The number of days that close contacts should quarantine after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 will be cut by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Instead of the currently recommended 14 days, the new guidelines will suggest quarantining for seven to 10 days after exposure, two senior White House officials told CNN.

Close contacts can end their quarantine after seven days if they test negative for the new coronavirus, or 10 days if they don't get tested.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Tuesday that the new guidelines will be issued soon, CNN reported.


Coronavirus Infections Much Earlier Than Thought

A small number of people in the United States may have been infected with the new coronavirus as early as Dec. 13, 2019, which is more than a month earlier than previously thought.

That's the conclusion of researchers who analyzed samples of American Red Cross blood donations, The New York Times reported.

They found coronavirus antibodies in blood donations from nine states that were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The antibodies suggest exposure to the new coronavirus or one very similar to it.

It's not known if these infections were in people who caught the virus in other countries, or whether the infections led to wider community transmission, said the authors of the study that has been accepted for publication in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The previous earliest documented coronavirus infection in the United States was reported on Jan. 19 in a person who'd traveled to China, The Times reported.

One expert on the new coronavirus has concerns about the findings. In a series of tweets, Trevor Bedford, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, said the study could have identified people with antibodies to other coronaviruses that cause common colds.

However, he didn't rule out that the study may have identified some cases of travelers infected in other countries, the Times reported.

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