Good news, employers. If you have an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 but isn’t showing symptoms, they can come back to work sooner now, according to updated guidance from the CDC.
The recommended isolation time for COVID-19-positive people used to be 10 days, regardless of whether the person had symptoms or not. But in a recent update, the CDC reduced the isolation period for these individuals to five days.
For those who test positive …
The CDC made this decision after gathering more information on COVID-19 and the very prevalent Omicron variant. Studies have shown that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs one to three days after the onset of symptoms.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for five days. If they experience no symptoms, or their symptoms go away within those five days (including being fever-free for at least 24 hours), they can leave isolation. However, the CDC says those individuals should continue to wear a mask when around others for five additional days.
For those who were exposed …
The CDC also issued updated guidance for those who were exposed to COVID-19 but didn’t test positive.
If the exposed person isn’t vaccinated or hasn’t received their booster yet, they need to isolate for five days, followed by five days of masking around others.
Vaccinated and boosted individuals don’t have to isolate, but must wear a mask for 10 days. It’s also wise for exposed individuals to take another COVID-19 test several days after their initial exposure, just to be safe.
If symptoms occur for exposed people at any time, isolation should begin again, and the individual should remain in isolation until having a negative COVID-19 test.
While this update is generally good for employers, it’s important not to let your guard down. COVID-19 cases have risen exponentially, and spikes are expected to continue as a result of the holidays. It’s crucial to keep encouraging employees to get vaccinated and boosted, and to enforce mask wearing.