On December 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance on when individuals should quarantine after potential exposure to the coronavirus. As it has consistently done throughout the pandemic, the CDC recommends that people should quarantine after they have been in “close contact” with someone who has COVID-19.
Under the new guidance, individuals have been in “close contact” with someone who has COVID-19 if:
- They were within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more;
- They provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19;
- They had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them);
- They shared eating or drinking utensils with someone who has COVID-19; or
- Someone with COVID-19 sneezed, coughed or got respiratory droplets on them.
Historically, the CDC has recommended that an individual quarantine for 14 days after their last exposure to COVID-19. Although it still recommends that period of quarantine, the CDC now allows two additional options for reducing quarantine for individuals who do not have symptoms. Such asymptomatic individuals can end their quarantine:
- After day 10 if they did not take a test; or
- After day seven if they received a negative test result (the test should not be administered more than 48 hours before the end of the seven day period).
After stopping quarantine, individuals should continue to watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure. If individuals develop symptoms, they should immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health authority or health care provider, wear a mask, stay at least six feet from others, wash their hands, avoid crowds and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While the CDC’s revised guidance has received much media attention and was referenced by Dr. Joneigh Khaldun during Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s December 3, 2020, COVID-19 update, most Michigan employees and employers must still adhere to the requirements of Michigan Public Act 2020-238, which has a different definition of “close contact” and provides a longer quarantine period. Under PA 2020-238, “close contact” means being within approximately six feet of an individual for 15 minutes or longer. Employees who have had close contact with an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or who displays the principal symptoms of COVID-19 shall not report to work until one of the following conditions is met:
- Fourteen days have passed since the employee last had close contact with the individual; or
- The individual with whom the employee had close contact receives a medical determination that they did not have COVID-19 at the time of the close contact with the employee (NOTE: This is different than the individual simply getting a negative test).
Health care workers, first responders, corrections personnel and certain child care workers are exempted from the quarantine requirements if they have only had close contact. This means they can report to work or be required to report to work following the close contact.
We have been in contact with the Michigan Legislature and the Governor’s office and understand that they are aware of the tension between PA 2020-0238 and the CDC’s new guidance when it comes to “close contact” and the quarantine period, and that they are working to see if PA 2020-0238 should be revised. Unless and until they revise the statute, however, Michigan employers and employees must continue to follow the statutory requirements and not the CDC’s guidance.
If you have any questions concerning this new guidance, please contact Rob Dubault, Jonathon Kok, Steve Palazzolo or your Warner attorney.