One of the biggest mysteries surrounding COVID-19 is whether or not contracting the virus gives you immunity against coming down with the illness again. While antibody testing has provided some measure of comfort to those previously infected, reports of people becoming reinfected have cast serious doubt on whether or not you actually stay immune to the virus for any prolonged period of time. But now, there’s some good news. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that if you’ve had COVID-19, you can expect to stay immune from the virus for 90 days.
On a July 27 call with members of the media, John Brooks, MD, chief medical officer for the CDC COVID-19 response team, said that coronavirus patients should consider themselves temporarily immune to reinfection if they remain asymptomatic “for 90 days after their date of infection or their date of diagnosis.”
Brooks elaborated that medical professionals “feel assured” that “in the short few months after you’ve been infected, you’re not at risk of getting it again or transmitting it to others.”
To minimize the risk of transmitting the virus to others, anyone with a probable or lab-confirmed case of coronavirus should begin isolating as soon as they experience symptoms or receive a positive test. After staying inside and away from others for 10 days, if patients have no lingering symptoms and have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducers, they can safely leave the house again.
If you haven’t had a positive coronavirus test or any symptoms, but have had exposure to someone with COVID, the CDC’s guidelines are even stricter. For anyone who’s come into contact with someone infected—whether their case of coronavirus is lab-confirmed or probable—the CDC recommends a 14-day quarantine period. (That’s because it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to emerge after being infected.)
However, just because you’ve recovered from a confirmed or suspected coronavirus diagnosis doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind. Brooks noted that individuals who experience symptoms again should exercise caution and get re-tested, and that everyone, whether they’ve had coronavirus or not, should continue wearing masks in public or whenever they’re around anyone who doesn’t live in their house. And for more insight on COVID immunity, check out It Turns Out, We All May Have Some Immunity to COVID, New Study Shows.