Arizona, California, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana have followed in Washington’s footsteps and adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s new shorter quarantine options either in whole or in part. As we previously reported, the CDC maintains that its prior recommendation of a 14-day quarantine for exposed individuals is still the safest way to prevent COVID-19 (coronavirus) from spreading. However, the agency has authorized local health authorities to allow individuals who are exposed to a person with COVID-19 to end quarantine after 10 days if the exposed person hasn’t developed any symptoms, or just 7 days if the asymptomatic exposed person also tests negative for the virus within 48 hours before ending quarantine. These shortened alternatives recognize that tests are more widely available now and balance the risk of spreading the virus with factors such as the psychological and economic consequences of longer quarantines.
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has adopted the shortened 10-day period for people who have had close contact but remain asymptomatic. This adoption has been approved by Governor Gavin Newsom in an executive order. However the shorter 7-day period with negative testing option has been reserved for certain critical health care workers and emergency response and social service workers.
Montana has added the CDC’s new guidance to its Phase 2 reopening guidance FAQs (see page 41), but is directing people to contact their local health department to find out whether to apply the shorter timeframes to their situation.
Washington has adopted the CDC guidance which allows for shorter quarantine periods (as noted in our previous article announcing the CDC’s new guidance).
Tips: Allowing a shortened quarantine period would lessen the economic impact on your employees who may have had close contact with a positive individual and who have no paid leave available, but such a decision comes with an increased risk of spreading the coronavirus. Evaluate the risks of exposure in your workplace and determine if you will continue with a 14-day quarantine period or move to the shortened 10-day period or 7-day period with a negative test. Even if you apply a shorter period, instruct workers to continue to self-monitor for symptoms for the full 14 days. For questions about appropriate safety precautions or how to modify your exposure control plan, please contact your Vigilant safety professional. Your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney can assist you with questions about sick or exposed employees, leave benefits, and when it may be appropriate for employees to return to work.