The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new timeline for individuals coming out of isolation that are not in the healthcare profession. As research has increased, the CDC now suggests that individuals that have tested positive with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 are contagious for no more than 10 days after symptoms began. Accordingly, they are reducing the timeframe for coming out of quarantine from 14 to 10 days from the onset of first symptoms. 

The CDC now suggests that individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 should evaluate when it’s safe to return out of isolation based on symptoms, not testing. Only in limited circumstances should testing be used instead of a symptom-based approach. In those limited circumstances, two tests separated by 24 hours should be used. This change is helpful to both employers and workers because a person may test positive for many weeks after they are no longer contagious.

Under the latest guidance, persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset; and
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; and 
  • Other symptoms have improved.

Individuals who were exposed to the virus but never tested should remain in quarantine for the full 14 days. The CDC also addressed other questions from employers. One of the most common is whether an employee who was exposed and tests negative may immediately return to work. The CDC is now advising against this, since it may take several days for the virus to be detectable. Rather, exposed employees should stay in quarantine for a full 14 days.

About the Authors. This update was prepared by HR Pros, LLC, a national HR consulting firm that helps companies reduce operational and employment related risks. Contact Christopher Brown (, Philip Roach ( or Josh Blinkey ( for more information.

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