Columbia County Public Health moves from a required 14-day quarantine to a 10-day quarantine.

PMG FILE PHOTO - A sign on the door of a St. Helens school reads "masks required."People in Columbia County who have contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 are now only expected to quarantine for 10 days, rather than 14.

The Columbia County Public Health Department changed the guidelines because case counts in Columbia County have started to decline.

"Although a 14-day quarantine is still the safest option to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others, the shorter 10-day option has been made available to county residents who have not developed any symptoms," an Oct. 28 county press release stated.

Schools and workplaces are required to follow quarantine orders from local public health authorities.

Under Oregon Department of Education guidelines, quarantines are not required for students and staff who are vaccinated. Public notifications of cases in the Scappoose School District, sent by Superintendent Tim Porter, show that in some instances, vaccinations have meant that less than half of students identified as close contacts of a COVID-19 case have had to quarantine.

St. Helens Superintendent Scot Stockwell made a public plea recently, urging parents to keep students home when sick.

"It doesn't matter what your political leanings are, it doesn't matter whether you believe in masks or not, whether you're vaccinated or not. … If a child has a fever, they need to stay home for a couple days. If a child has a cough, we need them to stay home," Stockwell said.

Other Oregon counties have moved to 10, or even 7-day quarantines.

Columbia County Public Health director Michael Paul said he did not anticipate moving to a 7-day quarantine soon.

"The Health Officers consider regional hospital capacity, local testing capacity, local vaccination rate, and local case rates," Paul said.

The county's health officer, Dr. Joe Skariah, "will continue to review the factors mentioned above, as well as consider regional and statewide changes so that we can align with adjacent counties as much as possible," Paul said.

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