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Employment Law Update: Updated CDC Covid-19 Guidance

8.25.2022

Employers should review the new guidance published by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) in order to properly inform their workforce on best safety practices.  Employers may also need to review and revise their current written policy on Covid-19. 

The rationale for the CDC’s Revised Guidance

On August 11, 2022, the CDC revised its guidance for Covid-19. The new guidance reflects that although the Covid-19 epidemic is not over, there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death compared to the early days of the pandemic.  This is because the U.S. population now has many tools to fight Covid-19, including high-quality masks, testing, and vaccines. 

Changes in Guidance

  • Quarantine and isolation guidelines are now the same for those who are current with Covid-19 vaccinations and those who are not.

All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, do not need to isolate if they were in close contact with someone with Covid-19.  Prior to the new guidance, the CDC recommended that only those who were not current with their Covid-19 vaccinations should isolate for five days if they were in close contact with someone with Covid-19.

  • For those exposed to Covid-19, use of high-quality masks instead of isolation is recommended.

The CDC recommends that those exposed to Covid-19 wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and test on day 5.  The new guidance applies to those who have been vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated.  Prior to the new guidance, the CDC recommended quarantine for those who were exposed to Covid-19.

  • Less quarantine time is recommended for those who test positive for Covid-19.

The CDC recommends isolation for five days for persons who are positive for Covid-19.  Before the new guidance, the CDC recommended ten days of isolation for those who tested positive.  The CDC also recommends wearing a high-quality mask during this time if a person will be around others in public or at home.  After five days, if a person who tested positive for Covid-19 has no fever for at least 24 hours without using medication and their symptoms are reduced, they may end isolation.  The CDC recommends that in such a situation, the individual continue to wear a high-quality mask through day ten.  They should also avoid being around those at serious risk from Covid-19 through day 11.  

Recommendations for Other Scenarios

  • The CDC’s new guidelines recommend that individuals who are ill and suspect they have Covid-19 isolate until they test for Covid-19 and receive a negative result.
  • Those who are positive and experience moderate to severe illness, including trouble breathing and/or hospitalizations, should isolate through day ten.
  • For those who are severely ill with Covid-19 and have weakened immune symptoms, the CDC recommends consulting with a healthcare provider.
  • Those who are positive for Covid-19 and whose symptoms worsen after ending isolation should restart the isolation period.

TAKEAWAY:  Employers must be aware of changes to the CDC’s Covid-19 guidance in order to advise their workforce and to revise existing Covid-19 policies.  If you are an employer and need help navigating the CDC’s recent Covid-19 guidance or any federal or New Jersey employment law, contact Stephanie Gironda or any member of the Wilentz Employment Law Team. 

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