Quarantine Timelines for COVID-Positive Tests and Exposures+

July 15, 2020 4:00 pm

July 2020
Quarantine Timelines for COVID-Positive Tests and Exposures

Two CDC Strategies for Symptomatic Employees

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published two recommended strategies for individuals to self-isolate due to COVID-19 symptoms. 

The Symptom-Based Strategy requires the person to stay home until it has been at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms and 3 days since recovery from symptoms.

– This guidance aligns with Fresno County’s employee health screening requirements, and is the best approach when an actual COVID-19 test will not be administered or when two tests (as described below) cannot be received in a timely manner.

The Test-Based Strategy requires the person to be away from work until there is a resolution of fever without the use of medication, improvement of respiratory symptoms, and two negative COVID tests taken at least 24 hours apart.

– This method may be best when an employee’s symptoms are lingering but are not believed to be COVID-19 or when timely testing is available.

COVID-Positive Test Without Symptoms
The employee should stay away from work until at least 10 days have passed since the date of the positive COVID-19 test, if he/she does not develop any symptoms, or after two negative COVID tests taken at least 24 hours apart.

Direct Exposure to a COVID-19 Patient
If your employee reports having been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, he/she should stay away from work for 14 days from the date of exposure to monitor of symptoms. If symptoms develop, follow the strategies described above.

– Note that the Fresno County Department of Public Health defines “direct contact” as spending 15 minutes or more time within 6 feet or less while unmasked. If your employee reports incidental contact, he/she is not required to self-quarantine, but should strictly adhere to distancing and masking protocols.

Living in the Same Household with a COVID-19 Patient
This scenario is potentially the longest, and trickiest, one to navigate. According to the CDC’s guidance for caregivers, the person should continue to self-quarantine until 14 days from when the infected person has met the criteria to end isolation, using symptom-based strategy or test-based strategy above. Even if your employee is not providing care, they are likely using the same restrooms or kitchen and air conditioning is circulating through the home, resulting in continual risk for exposure.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Other Benefits

An employee who must self-quarantine due to COVID-19 symtpoms, testing, or exposure is eligible for up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave. If he/she must stay away from work longer, State Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave can provide partial income replacement. The employee may also use existing company sick leave or vacation/PTO benefits.

FMLA/CFRA Designation for Employers of 50+

Self-quarantine due to symptoms is not a qualifying event for FMLA/CFRA if there is no need for medical care. A regimen of treatment that can be initiated without a doctor visit, such as over-the-counter medications,  is not considered a serious health condition. Covered employers should designate an eligible employee’s time off as using FMLA/CFRA leave entitlements when:

– There is a positive COVID-19 test and the person must stay off work for at least three days.

– The employee is required to care for a COVID-infected parent, child, or spouse.

We understand how complicated and confusing these decisions can be, and you’re not in this alone! Contact one of our certified Consultants to discuss the specific scenarios being reported by your employees.

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