Revised CDC Isolation Times a Reminder for Non-Static HR Policies

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance for determining when non-hospitalized individuals with COVID-19 may end home isolation and return to work.

Previously, the CDC referenced a timeline of 14 days for employees to quarantine from the workplace after testing positive for COVID-19, new guidance is not a ‘one-size-fits-all rule.’ According to HR Dive, the updated guidance states that those with COVID-19 symptoms directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation “(a) at least 10 days have passed since symptom onset; (b) at least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; and (c) other symptoms have improved. Among the changes to previous guidance, CDC reduced the fever resolution component from 72 hours.”

The CDC also stated that individuals with severe illness may require isolation for up to 20 days after symptom onset. Additionally, those infected with the virus SARS-CoV-2 but do not develop symptoms of COVID-19 may discontinue isolation and other precautionary measures 10 days after the first positive test for SARS.

From HR Dive:

Employers also should not require that all employees who are isolating at home have a negative COVID-19 test result as a condition of returning to work, Friedman noted. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has said that employers may choose to administer COVID-19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace, and employers may require a doctor’s note certifying fitness for duty, in accordance with the standards of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). But EEOC also said the law does not allow employers to require workers to submit to a COVID-19 antibody test.

As an alternative or supplement to on-site COVID-19 testing, employers might choose to implement temperature check procedures as well as employee questionnaires, sources previously told HR Dive. Contact tracing systems may also help to maintain worker safety, but some caution that there may be data privacy concerns surrounding the use of such technology.

The new CDC isolation timeline is a reminder that employer policies on COVID cannot be static and will continually need to be updated as more information is learned.