On August 11, 2022, the CDC issued new guidance regarding isolation and masking for individuals exposed to COVID-19. According to the CDC, high levels of immunity and the availability of COVID-19 prevention and management tools have reduced the risk for medically significant illness. While employers still must traverse through the complicated web of COVID-19 mitigation regulations, the CDC’s new relaxed guidance may signal a light at the end of the tunnel.
Prior to this update, individuals exposed to COVID-19 were instructed to quarantine for 5 days. This presented difficult operational challenges for employers, who were expected to monitor and trace COVID-19 exposures throughout their workforce and instruct exposed employees to quarantine, often at times when companies were already understaffed. Now, however, the CDC recommends that individuals exposed to COVID-19 wear a mask for ten days around others while monitoring for symptoms, eliminating the precautionary quarantine period. Additionally, exposed persons should test for COVID-19 five days after their exposure. If the test is positive, the CDC recommends isolating for either five days or 24 hours after symptoms cease, whichever is later.
This change in the CDC’s guidance should help to alleviate some of the staffing challenges employers are facing this year. Greta Massetti of the CDC stated, “We…have a better understanding of how to protect people from being exposed to the virus, like wearing high-quality masks, testing, and improved ventilation. This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.” If an employee is exposed to COVID-19, even in the workplace, they are no longer expected to isolate and miss time from work. Instead, exposed employees must simply wear a mask for ten days and test for the virus after five days.
For more information, or if you have questions, please contact any member of the McNees Labor and Employment Group.