Employment Law Q&A: New CDC guidance for vaccinated employees

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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) took many by surprise on May 13, 2021, by announcing that masks would no longer be required for vaccinated individuals in most settings. Faced with the rapid spread of the Delta variant across the country, on July 27, 2021, the CDC once again modified its masking guidance and reopened the debate over workplace masking. Understanding the CDC’s guidance will help employers as they consider their options. 

Q. Are fully vaccinated employees required to wear masks?

A. The CDC’s new guidance recommends that fully-vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in public areas of high or substantial community transmission. To find out if your business is located in one of these areas the CDC has provided a data tracker website. 

Q. Should employees be tested if they are fully vaccinated and exposed to COVID-19?   

A. In relation to testing for exposure, the CDC now recommends that fully vaccinated individuals test for COVID-19 between three to five days after exposure, even if asymptomatic. The CDC also recommends vaccinated individuals who are in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 wear a mask indoors in public for either 14 days post-exposure or until receiving a negative test result. If a fully-vaccinated individual tests positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends that the individual isolate for 10 days after receiving a positive test result.

Q. What is close contact?

A. Close contact means within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19.

Q. What if an employee has not been vaccinated and they have exposure (close contact) with COVID-19?

A. Employees who have not been vaccinated must still quarantine for 14 days (or 10 days if preferred but not recommended by the CDC) or after day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later).

Q. Should employers update their COVID-19 Policies?

A. Remember COVID-19 is still active and employers should have protocols in place to deal with symptomatic employees and positive test results. Further information can be found here on how to respond. If you have not updated your COVID-19 policy you should to do so. 

Please feel free to contact the attorney listed below or another labor and employment lawyer at McDonald Hopkins for assistance.

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