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CDC reviews lowering COVID isolation from 5 days to 1

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Announcements | Legal
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The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering rolling back COVID recommendations to say employees can go back to work after 24 hours with no fever, instead of the current five days, according to Washington Post sources.

The proposed changes are expected to be released to the public for input in April, according to Reuters.

“There are no updates to COVID guidelines to announce at this time. We will continue to make decisions based on the best evidence and science to keep communities healthy and safe,” CDC said in an email response to Reuters.

Reuters says the last time the COVID isolation time was updated was in 2021 when it was reduced from 10 to five days.

California and Oregon already tell employees and schoolchildren that isolation is only needed for those with symptoms, according to the New York Times.

The article says opponents are already discussing the proposed CDC guideline changes.

“From a long-term public health perspective, I think this sets, really, an unfortunate precedent,” said Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the special pathogens program at NYC Health and Hospitals, in the article.

She said the CDC should be advocating for national, guaranteed paid sick and family leave.

It’s uncertain how states and businesses will respond to a guideline shift from the CDC.

According to a 2022 Time article, some companies started removing COVID sick time options after the CDC modified the isolation time to five days.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the number of private industry workers offered sick time at the start of the pandemic was 74%. As of March 2023, the number increased slightly to 78%.

States have led the charge in requiring paid leave laws, according to the Time article.

Six states required paid leave laws at the start of the pandemic. That number increased by 10 for a total of 16 states by fall 2022, the article said.

Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation says 19 states currently require paid time off.

In 2022, Collision Industry Conference Human Resources Task Force Chair Cory King outlined COVID vaccine recommendations for the collision industry following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

King said employers can do three things:

    • Require employees exposed to COVID or who have the virus to provide their vaccination status or proof of a negative test before returning to work.
    • Mandate vaccination if “job-related and consistent with business necessity” but tread lightly and be aware of the laws, especially if vaccines are offered on-site. Employers can’t take adverse action against employees who refuse to answer pre-screening questions, which is required to get vaccinated.
    • Encourage employees to get free at-home test kits, which are now provided by the federal government, and be judicious about using them.

King added that employers should keep the religious legal exemption in mind. “This is becoming the lawsuit du jour – dealing with religious accommodations – for people who don’t want to get vaccinated,” he said. “It’s a very broad standard that protects them.”


Photo Courtesy of Daria Nipot/iStock

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