The CDC Updates its COVID-19 Return to Work Guidelines

Posted: July 21, 2020 | News

The Centers for Disease Control recently updated its guidance affecting when employees may return to work if they had, or likely had COVID-19. CDC guidance previously recommended that employees not return to work until 72 hours passed with no fever without fever-reducing medication, among other precautions. The CDC has shortened that time, and is now recommending that employees not return to work until 24 hours have passed since the last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. The CDC also changed its guidance from “improvement in respiratory symptoms” to “improvement in symptoms” to address the expanding list of symptoms associated with COVID-19. The CDC’s updated guidance can be found here.

Current CDC guidance provides:

Employees Who Think They Had, or Know They Had COVID-19, and Had Symptoms of COVID-19

Employees can return to work when:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared; and
  • At least 24 hours have passed with no fever without fever-reducing medication; and
  • Symptoms have improved.

Depending on the employee’s healthcare provider’s advice and availability of testing, the employee may be tested to see if the employee still has COVID-19. If the employee is tested, the employee can return to work if the employee has no fever, respiratory symptoms have improved, and the employee receives two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.

Employees Who Tested Positive for COVID-19 But Had No Symptoms

Employees can return to work as long as they continue to have no symptoms when:

  • 10 days have passed since the positive COVID-19 test.

Depending on the employee’s healthcare provider’s advice and availability of testing, the employee might get tested to see if the employee still has COVID-19. If the employee is tested, the employee can also return to work if the employee receives two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.

However, if the employee develops symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19, the employee should not return to work until the employee meets the guidance above for “Employees Who Think They Had, or Know They Had COVID-19, and Had Symptoms of COVID-19.”

Immunocompromised Employees

The CDC is also recommending to those who are immunocompromised that they might need to stay home longer than 10 days and that they should speak with their healthcare provider for more information.

Employees Who Have Been in “Close Contact” With Someone Who Has COVID-19

Employees who have been in “close contact” with someone who has COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days after the last date of potential exposure. “Close contact” means that the employee was within six feet of an individual who has COVID-19, for 15 minutes or more during the 48 hours before the infected individual’s symptoms began until the infected individual self-quarantined. The definition of “close contact” does not change even if both individuals were wearing face coverings. An employee who has been in “close contact” with someone who has COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days even if the employee experiences no symptoms during that time.

The CDC’s guidance on returning to work for healthcare professionals is different, and that updated guidance may be found here.

This blog is not meant to provide specific legal advice.  For advice specific to your business, please contact any of the employment attorneys in our Employment Practices Group, who are ready to assist you with your COVID-19 response plan.

This Article is one of a series of Articles Ferruzzo & Ferruzzo, LLP will be circulating to address questions from clients related to COVID-19. Ferruzzo & Ferruzzo, LLP has formed a task force to assist business owners with their needs related to COVID-19.

Colleen M. McCarthy

Colleen M. McCarthy, Esq. is a Partner and chairs the Firm’s Employment Practices Group. She has dedicated her practice to representing and protecting employers, with a particular emphasis on risk mitigation through preventative counseling and sound practical advice. For almost 20 years, Colleen McCarthy has counseled employers about the complicated employment laws that impact their businesses to ensure that they are in compliance, and to reduce the chance of costly litigation. Colleen McCarthy may be reached by phone at (949) 608-6900 or email cmccarthy@ferruzzo.com.