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How Long Should Employees Quarantine if They Test Positive for COVID-19?

By January 10, 2022December 16th, 2022Safety

COVID-19 Test ResultsAbsenteeism due to COVID-19 is a big problem for many businesses right now. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a surge in factory workers out sick threatens to worsen supply chain problems such as transportation bottlenecks and delayed deliveries. Masks are making their way back to manufacturing floors, and executives are employing various solutions to fortify their workforces and meet staffing needs.

Almost everywhere you look – from trash collection services to restaurants and schools – the Omicron variant is having a huge impact on normal operations. There is, however, one bright spot in the news; under new guidance from the CDC, employees can get back to work sooner after an infection than was previously recommended.

Public health guidelines recently updated

Throughout the pandemic, the CDC has recommended that infected individuals quarantine themselves for periods as long as 14 days. However, the agency updated its recommendations for Quarantine and Isolation on January 9, and the new standards are less stringent.

Individuals experiencing symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should plan to isolate at home for a minimum of five days.

For individuals who test positive but no longer have symptoms, health officials shortened the length of isolation time from 10 days to five days. The CDC also shortened the length of quarantine time to five days for unvaccinated people who have been exposed to someone with an infection but have not tested positive themselves. In both situations, the CDC recommends wearing well-fitting masks for an additional five days.

The good news is that individuals who are up-to-date on their vaccinations or who had a confirmed COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days are not required to quarantine at all after exposure to an infected individual, as long as they are not experiencing symptoms themselves. The five-day quarantine requirement kicks in if someone who is not current on their vaccinations is exposed to an infected individual.

For more information and a flowchart of how to calculate quarantine and isolation times, as well as detailed instructions on what to do in those situations, visit the CDC’s If You Are Sick resources.

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