August 18, 2022
Laura L. Rubenstein
On August 11, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new Summary of Guidance for Minimizing the Impact of COVID-19 on Individual Persons, Communities, and Health Care Systems. The CDC warns that “COVID-19 remains an ongoing public health threat,” particularly due to the relatively low booster rates and emergent variants. As workers return to work in person in greater numbers, employers have a critical role in developing and maintaining health and safety policies and practices.
The CDC is no longer recommending that individuals exposed to COVID-19 be quarantined as a precaution. Rather, the revised guidance focuses on masking, boosters, and testing to limit infections, along with isolation of symptomatic and confirmed positive individuals to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Previously, individuals who were exposed to COVID-19, but not up to date with COVID-19 boosters, were told to quarantine for five (5) days and self-monitor for symptoms. Practically speaking, this meant that exposed employees had to be excluded from the workplace. This created challenges for companies where remote work was not possible and PTO had been exhausted. The new guidance eliminates precautionary quarantine.
The CDC continues to recommend that those who have had a recent confirmed or suspected exposure to COVID-19 should wear a mask for 10 days around others and should be tested for the virus 5 or more days after the exposure. Persons who have tested positive are instructed to isolate for at least five days or 24 hours after cessation of symptoms and to wear a mask around others for a full 10 days. OSHA is expected to establish similar guidance.
The CDC stresses that “COVID-19 vaccines are highly protective against severe illness and death,” and staying current with boosters is key to reducing infection and transmission as well as long COVID. Boosters that specifically target the Omicron-variant are expected to be available in September 2022, and will play a role in future efforts to contain the pandemic.
For questions about your workplace COVID-19 policies, contact any of our RKW employment lawyers.
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