We all know that every day brings more information on best workplace practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC is no exception. It recently revised guidelines for employees who are exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms, or test positive.
The updated CDC guidelines advise that the length of home isolation should be related to symptoms, with the following timelines:
- Asymptomatic individuals can end isolation after 10 days.
- Individuals who tested positive and have moderate to mild symptoms can end isolation after 10 days if at least 24 hours have passed without a fever and other symptoms have improved.
- Individuals who tested positive and have severe illness may need to continue isolation for a full 20 days.
- Individuals who were exposed to the virus but were never tested and have no symptoms should continue to quarantine for the full 14 days.
While testing still is considered by some employers to be somewhat of a gold standard for safety in the workplace, test results are not always determinative of safety. Not only are test results sometimes unreliable but results are slow to return. Additionally, sometimes employees with mild symptoms just don’t get tested.
The CDC applies an exemption to the 14-day quarantine in the case of employees in critical infrastructure. They may return to work after exposure to COVID-19 if they have no symptoms, wear a mask, monitor themselves for symptoms, and practice social distancing.