Updated CDC Guidance as of Aug. 11, 2022 for COVID-19 Quarantining and Isolation
What can’t be denied is that COVID-19 continues to have a daily impact on our companies and our employees. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to work on updating and refining their guidance to help people better understand their risk, how to protect themselves and others, what actions to take if exposed to COVID-19, and what actions to take if they are sick or test positive for the virus.
The CDC most recently streamlined its guidelines on August 11, 2022. To minimize safety and legal risks, employers should take note of these newest guidelines, summarized below by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Quarantine is a strategy used to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 by keeping people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 apart from others, according to the CDC.
Isolation is used to separate people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from those without COVID-19. People who are in isolation should stay home, apart from others, until it’s safe for them to be around other people.
The new guidance from the CDC recommends that:
- Instead of quarantining if they are exposed to COVID-19, individuals should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day six.
- Regardless of vaccination status, individuals should isolate from others when they have COVID-19.
- Individuals should also isolate if they are sick and suspect that they have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results. If their results are positive, follow CDC’s full isolation recommendations. If their results are negative, they can end their isolation.
- If individuals test positive for COVID-19, they should stay home for at least five days and isolate from others in their home. They are likely most infectious during these first five days. Individuals should wear a high-quality mask when they must be around others at home and in public.
- If after five days, individuals are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and their symptoms are improving – or they never had symptoms – they may end isolation after the fifth day.
- Regardless of when individuals end isolation, they should avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11.
- If individuals had moderate illness (if they experienced shortness of breath or had difficulty breathing) or severe illness (they were hospitalized) due to COVID-19 or they have a weakened immune system, they need to isolate through day 10.
- If individuals had severe illness or have a weakened immune system, they should consult their doctor before ending isolation.
- If, after individuals have ended isolation, their COVID-19 symptoms worsen, they should restart their isolation at day 0. They should talk to a health care provider if they have questions about their symptoms or when to end isolation.
Jenifer Bologna, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in White Plains, NY, noted that the CDC’s updated guidance highlights individual responsibility. In addition, she said it no longer differentiates between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
- SHRM HR Daily Newsletter, Aug. 15, 2022. “What Should Employers Do When a Worker Tests Positive for COVID-19?”, by Allen Smith, J.D., Aug. 12, 2022.
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