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CDC Issues New Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Quarantine Period

December 3, 2020

— A woman isolating at home / Getty Images

On Wednesday December 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued new guidance indicating that the existing 14-day quarantine period following COVID-19 exposure can potentially be shorted to a 10-day or seven-day period. While the standard 14-day period does remain in effect, the agency acknowledged that the 14-day period is onerous – impacting physical and mental health and causing economic hardship – a fact that may impact compliance and cooperation with public health agencies and contact tracing.  As a result, while the 14-day period continues to represent the outer bounds of the COVID-19 incubation period, the CDC believes that a shortened period may reduce the burdens associated with quarantine and increase compliance.           The CDC acknowledges that local public health agencies still establish quarantine periods for their jurisdiction. However, under the revised CDC guidance, the following shortened quarantine periods are acceptable alternatives:(1)   Quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. (2)   When diagnostic testing resources are sufficient and available, quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. *Note, that the test may occur within 48 hours before the time of planned quarantine discontinuation (e.g., in anticipation of testing delays), but quarantine may not be discontinued any earlier than after Day 7.For both shortened periods, individuals can discontinue quarantine only if the following criteria are also met: (1)   No clinical evidence of COVID-19 has been found by daily symptom monitoring during the entirety of quarantine up to the time at which quarantine is discontinued; (2)   Daily symptom monitoring continues through quarantine Day 14; and(3)   Persons are counseled regarding the need to adhere strictly through quarantine Day 14 to all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions.It is too early to tell how quickly local and state health agencies will respond to the shortened quarantine period, and additional clarification from the CDC may be forthcoming, so employers should continue to partner with the relevant public health agency as they become aware of potential exposure in the workplace or amongst their employees.Shuttleworth & Ingersoll will continue to closely monitor CDC and other agency recommendations. Please contact any of our employment attorneys if you need additional guidance regarding this update or COVID-19 in general.   

Sara G. Sidwell is an Attorney with Shuttleworth & Ingersoll. Sara’s practice focuses on employment and labor law and is based out of the Coralville office. She has practiced employment law for over fifteen years, both in-house and in private practice, and has extensive experience counseling both large and small employers on all aspects of employment law. These areas include discrimination and harassment, disability management, workforce reductions or restructuring, employment contracts, wage and hour compliance, background checks and FCRA compliance, performance management, noncompetition agreements and claims, commission agreements and claims, safety issues, workers’ compensation, and whistleblower claims.

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