On July 22, 2020, the CDC issued new guidance entitled “Duration of Isolation and Precautions for Adults with COVID-19.” The new guidance can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/duration-isolation.html
This new guidance is notable for employers. Previously, the CDC had indicated generally that individuals could potentially return to work and end isolation after 14 days following a positive test, and being fever free for 48 hours without the aid of medication. In a change this week, the CDC now recommends a symptom-based, rather than testing-based, strategy for ending isolation for those persons who current evidence suggests are no longer infectious. The CDC reports that reliable data indicates that most persons infected with COVID-19 (i.e., those with mild to moderate symptoms) are no longer infectious 10 days after the first onset of symptoms, while individuals with more severe or critical illness are no longer infectious after 20 days following the first onset of symptoms. Based on this data analyzed by the agency, the CDC has indicated that there is justification for shortening the isolation period measured from the onset of symptoms so that those who are no longer infectious “are not kept unnecessarily isolated and excluded from work or other responsibilities.”
Thus, the CDC now recommends that persons with COVID-19 who have only mild to moderate symptoms can end isolation and other precautions 10 days after symptoms first present themselves and after the person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the aid of medication. For those persons with more serious illness, the CDC recommends they can end isolation and other precautions 20 days after symptoms first present themselves and after the person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the aid of medication. For persons who never develop symptoms, isolation and other precautions can be ended 10 days after a positive test.
Notably, the CDC also indicates that a test-based strategy is no longer recommended to determine whether isolation and other precautions can be terminated, except in situations where discontinuation of isolation and other precautions earlier than 10 or 20 days is sought or where a person is severely immunocompromised. For persons previously diagnosed with symptomatic COVID-19 who remain asymptomatic following recovery, the CDC does not recommend retesting within three months of the onset of symptoms and further, does not recommend quarantine in the event of close contact with an infected person. For persons who develop new symptoms within three months after initial symptom onset, the CDC said retesting can be considered but consultation with an infectious disease or infection control expert is recommended. Finally, the CDC continues to take the position that “serologic testing should not be used to establish the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2 infection or reinfection.”
Because legal developments pertaining to COVID-19 are constantly evolving, we recommend that our clients call the Kullman Firm attorney(s) with whom they work for the most current guidance on these matters.