The CDC updated its COVID-19 isolation guidance (again!) to include testing. Sort of.

In an unintentionally-pervy post a few days ago, I told you that the CDC was considering amending its COVID-19 isolation guidance for asymptomatic individuals (and those with resolving symptoms) to include testing.

That change did follow. Except, here’s the thing. You can test if you want to. Or you can leave those tests behind.

It’s the safety (gui)dance.

For those of you not born before 1980, that Men Without Hats reference went right over your head. So, I’ll explain the guidance in more modern parlance.

(Is it still cool to say YOLO?)

The CDC still says that if you have COVID-19, you must isolate for at least five days.

  • If you have no symptoms, Day 0 is the day of your positive viral test (based on the date you were tested), and day 1 is the first full day after the specimen was collected for your positive test.
  • If you have symptoms, day 0 is your first day of symptoms. Day 1 is the first full day after your symptoms develop.

The CDC also still says that you can leave isolation after five full days if you have no symptoms or they are improving. (But stay home if you have a fever).

Here is where the guidance changes:

If an individual has access to a test and wants to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test1 towards the end of the 5-day isolation period. If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10. If your test result is negative, you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10. 

Look, I get that with new variants and other unpredictable factors, the CDC will need to update its guidance from time to time. But, come on! Whether you like the new guidance, or not, why couldn’t the CDC have issued guidance once and stuck with it for more than, say, a WEEK!?!

As an employment lawyer, I suppose that I shouldn’t be complaining. It’s the mercurial moves like this that pay to put my kids through college. But clients don’t necessarily want me updating their policies on the monthly, weekly, or daily.

Like I’ve said before, companies need not follow the CDC guidance to the letter, although, you’ll have a pretty good defense to any COVID-related negligence lawsuit if you do. But if you’re more concerned about consistency than my children’s advanced education — I’m currently exploring college campus housing with spa bathrooms and outdoor tennis courts — draft a risk-averse policy that punches above the CDC’s guidance so you won’t have to update it so often.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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