HOUSTON – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted an updated recommendation on their quarantine guidelines in August, indicating that those who have recovered from COVID-19 can safely interact with others for up to three months.
While it is too soon to tell exactly how long people are immune after recovering from the virus, this update suggests that the protection lasts for at least that long. Still, the recommendation has received mixed reaction from medical professionals and COVID-19 survivors.
“COVID was something totally different. I never want to experience that again,” said Martin Rogers, a COVID-19 survivor from Missouri City.
Martin Rogers and his wife Alice both got COVOD-19 in early July.
"I had the coughing," Alice Rogers said.
"The congestion, the loss of taste," Martin Rogers listed.
That part was the easy part.
“And a migraine that was hellacious,” Martin Rogers said.
After 10 or so days of sickness and a two-week, symptom-free quarantine, they believe they’re likely in the clear. Even still, they have continued to keep their distance from people.
However, the CDC recently posted an update to its official quarantine recommendation, indicating that patients, like the Rogers, who have recovered from COVID-19 can safely be around others for up to three months, which suggests that the immunity to COVID-19 may last for at least that long.
The CDC’s update specifically states in its guidelines that people who need to quarantine are “people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past three months.” The recommendation further states that “people who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to three months as long as they do not develop symptoms again.”
For the Rogers, though, it doesn’t provide any relief. It’s not clear cut. She isn’t sure when she fully recovered and since the virus affects people differently it’s difficult to tell when the timer would start.
"You can't really say if that was a symptom or if it wasn't a symptom," Alice Rogers said.
For some medical professionals like Dr. Joseph Varon, United Memorial Medical Center’s Chief of Staff, who leads a team of frontline workers, it’s concerning.
"There is no question that once you get an illness, there is some degree of protection, but we still don't know how long that protection is," Varon said.
His staff has been working for 148 days and counting. He's counting. He's worked them all and works at leads 16 hours a day.
"I'm a little concerned about making a statement that you are 'protected for three months' and the reason I am concerned is because I know that a lot of people are going to feel like they're Superman and that they can do whatever they want and perhaps not take the appropriate safety measures," Varon said.
He says COVID-19 is too new.
"The data is young. The data is changing constantly," Varon said.
Instead, he recommends that people continue to take extra precautions.
“Be careful because the CDC changes its mind on a regular basis ... We’ve seen it with the use of masks; we’ve seen it with isolation,” Varon said.
The Rogers aren't taking chances.
“I never want to get this again,” Martin Rogers said.