On December 27, 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) updated its guidance regarding quarantine and isolation periods for the general population after testing positive for or being exposed to COVID-19.  The updated guidance shortens the recommended timeframe for isolation following a COVID-19 diagnosis for individuals regardless of vaccination status.  It also shortens the recommended quarantine period following a COVID-19 exposure for vaccinated individuals.

Isolation Following a COVID-19 Diagnosis

Specifically, the CDC has shortened the recommended time for isolation for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to 5 days, if the individual is asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving by that time (though individuals who continue to have a fever should maintain isolation until the fever resolves).  The individual may then end isolation but should wear a mask when around others for at least 5 additional days.  This recommendation applies regardless of vaccination status.  In making this new recommendation, the CDC noted that the current science demonstrates that “the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”

Quarantine Following a COVID-19 Exposure

Additionally, the CDC updated its recommendations for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.  Individuals who: (i) have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months; (ii) completed the single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine within the last 2 months; and/or (iii) have received a booster, do not have to isolate after a COVID-19 exposure but are advised to wear a mask around others for 10 days. Such individuals are also advised to take a COVID-19 test on the fifth day after the exposure.

For asymptomatic individuals who have been exposed and who are: (i) unvaccinated or (ii) more than six months from their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or more than 2 months after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and have yet to receive their booster shot, the CDC now recommends that these individuals quarantine for 5 days after a COVID-19 exposure and wear a mask around others for 5 days after.  If a 5 day quarantine is not possible, the CDC recommends that these individuals wear a mask at all times for 10 days after the exposure.  Such individuals are also advised to take a COVID-19 test on the fifth day following the exposure.

In all cases following an exposure, if an individual develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they are advised to begin quarantining and get tested.

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While this new CDC guidance shortens the recommended isolation and quarantine period recommendations as the federal level, it should be noted that state and/or local governments or health authorities may maintain more stringent requirements or guidelines.  Additionally, individuals working in particular industries may be subject to different isolation/quarantine requirements.

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Photo of Steven Hurd Steven Hurd

Steve has extensive trial and appellate experience, in both federal and state courts focusing on claims of alleged individual and class discrimination, sexual harassment, wage and hour violations, FINRA, whistleblowing and retaliation, defamation, fraud, breach of contract, wrongful discharge and other statutory and…

Steve has extensive trial and appellate experience, in both federal and state courts focusing on claims of alleged individual and class discrimination, sexual harassment, wage and hour violations, FINRA, whistleblowing and retaliation, defamation, fraud, breach of contract, wrongful discharge and other statutory and common law claims. Steve also advises clients on employment litigation avoidance, litigation strategy and alternative forms of dispute resolution.

Steve is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Practice Group and Media & Entertainment Industry Group.

Steve helps his clients stay in compliance with the ever-changing employment regulations with respect to FLSA and state law wage and hour requirements by providing advice and conducting comprehensive audits. Steve conducts investigations pertaining to reductions-in-force and individual employee terminations, and claims of gender, race, national origin, and disability discrimination.

Photo of Laura Fant Laura Fant

As an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-chair of the Disability, Accommodations & Leave Management Practice Group, Laura Fant frequently counsels on employee leave and accommodation matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act…

As an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-chair of the Disability, Accommodations & Leave Management Practice Group, Laura Fant frequently counsels on employee leave and accommodation matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and related state and local laws. She also provides general employment counseling and has experience reviewing and updating employee handbooks and company policies, as well as providing training on topics such as discrimination and harassment in the workplace, social media, and the accommodation of physical and mental disabilities. Laura is a frequent contributor to Proskauer’s Law and the Workplace blog.

Before joining the Firm, Laura was assistant general counsel to the City of New York’s Office of Labor Relations. Prior to that, she was law clerk to Judge Jose L. Fuentes of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, and a judicial intern to Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Melissa C. Felcher

Melissa Felcher is a law clerk in the Labor Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group.