The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated guidance for how long employees should be quarantined at home after testing positive for COVID-19, reducing the time from 10 days to 5 days in some cases.

The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of the COVID transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and 20-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days, and if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.

Additionally, the CDC is updating the recommended quarantine period for those who are exposed to COVID-19. For people who are unvaccinated, or who are more than 6 months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine), and not yet boosted, the recommendation is now a quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days. Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure. Best practices would also include a test on day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

If You Test Positive for COVID-19 (Isolate)

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

  • Stay home for 5 days.
  • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house.
  • Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.

If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves.

If You Were Exposed to Someone with COVID-19 (Quarantine)

If you:

Have been boosted OR completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months OR completed the primary series of J&J vaccine within the last 2 months

  • Wear a mask around others for 10 days.
  • Test on day 5, if possible.

If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.

If you:

Completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine over 6 months ago and are not boosted OR completed the primary series of J&J over 2 months ago and are not boosted OR are unvaccinated

  • Stay home to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
  • If you can’t quarantine you must wear a mask for 10 days.
  • Test on day 5 if possible.

If you develop symptoms get a test and stay home.

Guardian HR will inform you about any updates or additional information on this topic.

You may find further information on this topic in the Guardian HR Forms Library under “Coronavirus > Safety > Social Distance and Quarantine ” located in the Client Portal for continuously updated materials on this and other topics. Access to our Client Portal is only available to active client users.

Clients wishing for additional information on the shortened quarantine, please contact your Guardian HR dedicated Manager.

If you wish to become a client of Guardian HR and get access to all our resources including your own dedicated HR Manager and our team of employment attorneys, please contact us at sales@guardian-hr.com or call us at 888-373-4724.