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Differing COVID test requirements spur confusion. Here's what to know for California.

The CDC said you can come out of isolation five days after a positive test. California said the same thing, but you need to get a negative test first.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — There's some confusion around California's new COVID-19 isolation recommendations which are different than the CDC's. 

A week ago, the CDC said people can come out of isolation five days after testing positive. A few days later, California said the same thing, but added that people need to get a negative test result first.  

People in the business community said they are pleased that the quarantine period is shorter. It could be the difference between whether a business survives or not.

Epidemiologists say this decision is both practical and backed by science to shorten the isolation period. 

It’s the testing where things start getting complicated. 

“I've just never seen anything like it in all the years that I’ve gone through,” said Rebecca Llewellyn. 

Llewellyn has owned and operated Payco Specialties for 46 years. It's a small business that paints roads across the state. 

"I don't know how small businesses will survive. I mean, we're at a critical time in history," she said. 

Up until Monday, she thought her employees still needed to quarantine for two weeks if they tested positive.

"The shorter time would help me, and all my employees are all young," she said.

It's part of the reason why the California Chamber of Commerce Policy Director Robert Moutrie is happy with the changes. 

"We're glad to see that coming from the federal and state,” he said. 

He does have concerns though. It starts with the need for a negative test before leaving isolation, which the CDC does not recommend. 

"Testing is a supply issue that may make this shorter quarantine duration less accessible to businesses when it should be," Moutrie said. "That may particularly weigh on those facing a labor shortage."

UC Berkeley Infectious Disease Dr. John Swartzberg acknowledges the struggle to get the test but said the negative test, in a perfect world, is a positive step. 

“I think California made a better decision than the CDC did,” Swartzberg said. 

However, he adds that those who are boosted should not be in the same category as those who are not vaccinated. 

"We know for people who are not vaccinated who get infected, they're going to shed virus for a longer period of time," he said.

But both he and Dr. Jeffrey Klausner with University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine added that this is a balance game. 

"We really can't effectively entirely control the spread of infection," Klausner said. "Five days will, you know, reduce forward transmission by about 90% or more of cases. From a public health perspective, that's probably enough."

Both epidemiologists said if someone's test comes back positive on the 10th day that people should not to worry. People can still come out of isolation and feel confident that you will not infect others. 

In an interview with ABC News over the weekend, Dr. Fauci said he’s considering adding a negative test requirement before coming out of isolation. That would make the guidelines at the state and federal levels line up. 


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