CDC Issues New Recommendations on Isolation and Quarantine Periods
In the midst of the holidays and as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the U.S., on December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance shortening recommended times for COVID-19-related isolation and quarantine. As a reminder, isolation refers generally to the action taken by a person with a confirmed infection, while quarantine refers to the time following a person’s exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.
New Guidance on Isolation:
For people who have tested positive for COVID-19 but who are and remain asymptomatic during the shortened isolation period, the CDC shortened the recommended isolation time from 10 days to 5 days, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around other people.
New Guidance on Quarantine:
For people exposed to COVID-19 who are either unvaccinated, more than 6 months post their second Pfizer or Moderna dose or more than 2 months post the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have not yet received a booster, the CDC now recommends a 5-day quarantine period followed by 5 additional days of strict mask use. For people who have received a booster, quarantine following exposure is not needed but the exposed person should wear a mask for 10 days following the exposure. The CDC also noted that best practice dictates that anyone exposed should undergo testing on day 5 following exposure. If the exposed person is or becomes symptomatic, they should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms the absence of COVID-19 infection.
Takeaway for Employers:
The new recommended isolation and quarantine times will likely impact upon when employees return to an ongoing in-person or hybrid work environment following a confirmed infection or exposure to someone with COVID-19.
Employers should consult with experienced human resources professionals and/or labor and employment counsel regarding all COVID-related employment issues. For MEA members, the Hotline and a Member Legal Services attorney are available to provide this assistance.
*This Alert is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.