COVID-19: CDC Scales Back Two-Week Self-Quarantine Recommendation for Travelers.

On August 10, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated recommendations for anyone traveling within the United States and internationally by scaling back the previous recommendation that all travelers self-quarantine for two weeks.  The CDC cautioned that there is ongoing transmission of COVID-19, that exposure from traveling, domestically or internationally, can occur and that travelers can pose a risk of spreading the virus for 14 days after exposure. While removing the recommendation to a 14-day self-quarantine, the CDC reiterated that travelers take precautions to protect from spreading COVID-19 when returning home by social distancing (at least 6 feet) from others, wearing a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered, washing hands often or using hand sanitizer, and self-monitoring for symptoms.

The CDC also recommends additional measures for anyone engaging in higher risk activities which put individuals at an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 including staying at home, avoiding anyone with a high risk of severe illness and considering getting tested. Higher risk activities include being in an area experiencing high levels of COVID-19 spread, mass gatherings, or traveling on a cruise ship or river boat.

The CDC also notes travelers should follow their state, territorial, tribal and local recommendations or requirements for travel.  Each state has issued some advisory regarding travel for its residents.

The Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 Travel Advisory continues to recommend a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone traveling to states with high positive testing rates of 15% or higher for COVID-19. The list of states with high positivity rates is updated on the Ohio Department of Health’s website each Wednesday.  See that list here.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health issued a similar travel advisory for Kentuckians.   See that advisory here.  Kentucky’s recommendation to self-quarantine for 14-days also applies to people traveling to states reporting a positive testing rate equal to or greater than 15%. The Kentucky Department for Public Health identifies these states from data reported to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.  The list of states for Kentucky’s recommended travel advisory was updated on August 12, 2020, and included Florida, Nevada, Mississippi, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama and Arizona. The positive testing rates change weekly, so the list is subject to change.

Whether the source is the CDC, Ohio Department of Health or the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the 14-day self-quarantine is an advisory recommendation. It is not a mandate or order to self-quarantine.  However, it is wise for employers to stay informed on any developments and recommendations from the CDC, state and local governments as the pandemic continues to evolve in order to implement appropriate policies that ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all employees.

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