Utah releases new COVID quarantine guidelines as state hits pandemic record

Stock photo.| Photo by yalcinsonat1/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — As the state set an all-time record for new COVID-19 infections on Friday with a continuing surge of the omicron variant, the Utah Department of Health released what it calls new guidelines for isolation and quarantine if someone tests positive.

Stock image | Photo by
dragana991/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

The state guidelines are the same as those released by the Centers for Disease Control that reduced the amount of days needed to quarantine after a positive COVID-19 test from 10 days to five. This drew some national criticism from some who said it catered to business interests, rather than being based on scientific data.

The Utah guidelines, like the CDC’s, say that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 – regardless of vaccination status – should stay at home for five days from the day they were tested, even if they don’t have symptoms or feel sick. 

People can leave their house after five days if symptoms have improved and they are fever-free for 24 hours. After that, they should wear a mask for the next five days when around others at home, work or school. 

For those who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 and who are either above 18 and recently boosted or fully vaccinated, or under 18 and fully vaccinated, they do not have to quarantine or stay home but should wear masks at work, school or when around other people for the next 10 days. 

Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, medical director of antibiotic stewardship for Intermountain Healthcare, seen during a Zoom teleconference on Dec. 30, 2021. | Zoom screenshot, St. George News

Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, infectious disease specialist with Intermountain Healthcare – the parent of St. George Regional Hospital and Cedar City Hospital – said there is medical data to support the new guidelines, though he also admits the new guidelines are about balancing public health interests and commerce. 

“The data behind this is omicron has a short incubation period and people are most infectious two days before and two days after and getting people back to work is important. The CDC is trying to strike that balance between health and getting people back to work in a timely fashion,” Stenehjem said, who added that in his opinion a testing component should have been added. “What I would have liked to see from the CDC is a testing requirement to come back. That, in my mind, would have felt a little safer.”

The omicron variant has caused the nation and the state to see pandemic-record numbers of new COVID-19 infections in the last few days. While omicron has been seen to cause fewer amounts of severe illness than the delta variant it has now replaced, its transmissibility on the level of measles still has the potential to cause mass staff shortages and missed work and school. 

Chart shows the percentage chance of being exposed to COVID-19 in a market or restaurant with 50 people in certain cities as of Jan. 3, 2022, according to the Georgia Tech biological sciences department. | Background photos by Pixabay; Graphic by Chris Reed, St. George News | Click to enlarge

This has been seen in major cities like New York City where three subway lines were closed Monday as 1,000 transit staff were out with COVID-19. According to CDC risk estimates compiled by the Georgia Tech biological sciences department, there is a 100% chance that someone walking into a market or restaurant without a mask in New York City will get COVID-19.

In St. George, that chance is 61% (59% in Cedar City) to get COVID-19 while maskless in a market or restaurant. However, it is more likely someone will be in a market or restaurant in Southern Utah without a face covering as New York City requires masks in such environments. 

A study released over the weekend by the CDC determined that unlike previous variants, omicron can infect a person with just a few seconds of exposure including a few seconds where someone wearing a mask exposes their nostrils. 

Cars at the TestUtah free COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at Tech Ridge, St. George, Utah, Dec. 30, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

On Friday, the state set a new pandemic record with 4,659 new infections, according to the Utah Department of Health. While high, Southern Utah stayed out of record territory with 214 new infections on Friday. There were an additional 566 people infected locally over the weekend.

The one-day record in Southern Utah is 363 new infections set on Dec. 2, 2020.

On Monday at the free drive-up COVID-19 testing site on Tech Ridge in St. George, the line was so long that employees began walking up to cars in line and handing out at-home tests to people in line.

The local hospitals also were once again busy over the weekend, with 24 more Southern Utahns needing to be hospitalized for COVID-19.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get the first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 5 and over. Those 5-18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Use vaccinefinder.org to find clinics that have the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Those who can receive the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment time.
  • Those who can receive a booster dose: Those who received Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago and are 16 or older. Those who received Johnson & Johnson at least two months ago and are 18 or older. Booster shots can be of any form of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Southwest Utah Public Health Department remains online appointment only. Some pharmacies and stores are offering walk-up appointments. Check the links below before going.
  • Must wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment and should have a personal ID.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.

Washington County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department St. George office, 620 S. 400 East, St George

For hours and more information: Click here 

Iron County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Cedar City office, 260 DL Sargent Dr., Cedar City, 84721.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Kane County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Kanab office, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Panguitch office, 601 Center St., Panguitch.

For hours and more information: Click here 

Beaver County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Beaver Office,  75 1175 North, Beaver.

For hours and more information: Click here 

St. George Regional Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital,  544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Various locations.

For hours and more information:: Click here

Revere Health:

Where: Revere Health Campus,  2825 E. Mall Drive, St. George.

Reservations: Call (435) 673-6131 to determine if the vaccine is available.


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click to register

Lin’s Marketplace:

Where: 1930 W. Sunset Blvd. and 2928 E. Mall Drive in St. George, 1120 State St. in Hurricane and 150 N Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 275 S River Rd. in St. George.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 2610 Pioneer Rd. in St. George, 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Family pharmacies:

Where: Several locations

Reservations: Use vaccinefinder.org to find a location near you

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

Check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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