On December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a press release announcing it was shortening its quarantine and isolation recommendations. CDC research on the omicron variant of COVID-19 suggests that not all cases will be severe and many individuals who test positive for the variant will be asymptomatic. As such, the quarantine and isolation periods can be shortened.
For individuals who test positive for COVID-19
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic need only isolate for five (5) days, followed by a strict five-day mask use period. The mask must be worn around all others for at least the full 10 days after exposure. If an individual has a fever, they should remain in quarantine until the fever resolves.
For individuals who are exposed to COVID-19
Individuals who are exposed to COVID-19 and are unvaccinated need only quarantine for five (5) days so long as masks or face coverings can be worn for an additional five (5) days. The mask must be worn around all others for at least the full 10 days after exposure. If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster or have completed their primary series of the mRNA dose vaccine within the last six months, or J&J within the last two months, need not quarantine. Instead, need only wear a mask for 10 days and should test on day five, if possible. If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.
To calculate a five-day isolation period, the CDC’s guidance now states day zero is the day an individual’s symptoms began, and day one is the first full day after symptoms developed. If an individual must quarantine, day zero is the day of initial exposure and day one is the first full day after exposure.
What does this mean for employers?
Employers may want to review and revise their COVID-19 policies to reflect the updated guidance. Important to note, the CDC’s guidance does not supersede state or local regulations. It is foreseeable that this new guidance will receive pushback. MBA will continue to monitor the situation closely and report on any new developments.