State health officials shorten 'close contact' quarantine period

The Department of Health has revised its quarantine guidelines for those who come in 'close contact' with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
The change comes as a spike in COVID-19 cases forces some schools, including the Morristown Beard School, to start winter break early.
It's been a challenging time for kids and parents. If students come in contact with a person who is positive, health officials say they can end quarantine in seven days after testing negative with a test taken five to seven days after exposure or after day 10 without a test -- a reduction from 14 days.
"Reducing the days is better because the fact that 14 days with some parents don't have that assistance for the 14 days," says Sylefane Cabeus, of Morris County. "Like some people have to take off of work to be with the child for those days they're home."
There are nearly 5,000 new student cases of COVID-19 statewide. News 12 spoke with doctors who agree the reduction in quarantine days is appropriate.
"We are still seeing the spread in the community and these extra quarantine days I don't think are decreasing the spread," says Henry Redel, chief of infectious disease at St. Peter's University Hospital.
Doctors say they haven't seen a new wave of kids coming in with COVID-19, but the average number of kids admitted to the emergency department over the last few months is far greater than at this time in 2020.
As the omicron variant spreads a South African study found children have a 20% higher risk of being admitted to the hospital with the new variant compared with the first wave.
"We plan as well for an increase in pediatric hospitalizations," says Shereef Elnahal, president of University Hospital. "In fact, we have already had citywide conversations about that in Newark with other hospitals and providers. So, there is a part of a plan in place in case it does happen."
The new guidance is in line with what the CDC has recommended for months. Leaders from the New Jersey Department of Health still say the optimal quarantine time after being in close contact with someone who has COVID is 14 days just to be safe.