Shorter quarantine options available for employees exposed to COVID-19
On December 4, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) released new guidance offering shorter quarantine options for individuals exposed to COVID-19. Prior guidance stated that an exposed individual (an individual who had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19) should quarantine for at least 14 days after their last exposure. In light of recently updated recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ODH now offers two reduced quarantine options:
- Seven days after last exposure with a negative test result from a sample collected on the fifth day following exposure, or
- Ten days after last exposure, with no testing.
ODH emphasizes that a 14-day quarantine still presents the lowest risk of post-quarantine transmission and is preferred “for people living in, working at, or visiting congregate living facilities, high density workplaces, or other settings where potential extensive transmission or contact with people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is possible.” Additionally, ODH notes that individuals should continue to self-monitor for symptoms for the full 14-day period. If at any point an individual develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, they should self-isolate and follow the applicable recommendations.
This new guidance does not specifically direct employers on which quarantine period they must impose for employees exposed to COVID-19, but it does offer alternatives that may lessen the burden of quarantine on both the employer and the employee. Employers will need to evaluate their particular business needs and workplace risks when addressing an employee’s return to work following exposure.