On December 4, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its long-standing guidance regarding the recommended quarantine period after an individual is exposed to COVID-19. While the CDC still endorses a 14-day quarantine, its new guidance suggests that local public health authorities may consider shortening the quarantine period to either:
- 10 days without testing.
- Seven days with a negative test result (test must occur on day five or later).
Ultimately, the CDC guidance leaves the decision regarding shortening of the quarantine period to local authorities. While some local health departments across the U.S. have adopted the shorter period on a case-by-case basis, the majority either have the new guidance under review or continue to recommend 14 days given local conditions.
Many employers view this new guidance as a welcome change as it may reduce the need for lengthy absences resulting in workforce shortages. However, employers should be wary: Until the alternative quarantine period is endorsed by a relevant local public health authority, cautious employers should continue to observe a 14-day quarantine period.