People should get rapid test or wear high-quality mask after 5 days: Jha – Business Insider

  • Top doctor Dr. Ashish Jha said people who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic should isolate for five days and then get a negative antigen test.
  • If they are unable to find a test, they should wear a “high-quality mask,” he said Sunday.
  • “The first five days are critical. That’s the period when people are the most contagious,” Jha said.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and one of the top doctors in the US, said Sunday that people who test positive for COVID-19 and isolate for five days should try to get a negative rapid antigen test before returning to work.

If they can’t get a rapid test, they should wear a “high-quality mask” in case they are still infected, Jha said Sunday during an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week.” 

“The first five days are critical. That’s the period when people are the most contagious, so if more Americans could stay at home and away from others for the first five days, it would make an enormous difference,” Jha said.

“You should get a negative antigen — one of those rapid tests. And if it’s negative then you should feel much more comfortable going back into society,” he added.


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of December changed its longstanding guidance and said individuals who test positive for COVID-19 but do not show symptoms associated with the disease should isolate for just five days rather than the previously recommended 10 days.

According to the CDC, the change was made because science showed that a person was most contagious in the two days before they showed symptoms of COVID-19 and in the 2-3 days after the onset of symptoms.

Still, as Insider previously reported, the decision elicited criticism from many, including The American Medical Association, which in a statement called the new guidelines “confusing” and “risking further spread of the virus.” 

“This virus has changed and is constantly throwing us curveballs,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday, defending the new guidance, Insider previously reported. “As this virus changes, the science changes.”

Jha said the CDC guidance doesn’t require a negative test to end isolation because the agency believed there weren’t enough tests to go around. 

“How do you recommend something that people can’t do?” he said on Sunday.

According to a report Saturday from the Washington Post, the Biden administration is finalizing a plan with the United States Postal Service to send 500 million COVID-19 tests to Americans, who will be able to request them through a website.

An announcement of the plan could come this week, and the tests could ship by the middle of January, the Post reported.