Legal Blog

CDC UPDATES: When You Can Be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID

In keeping up with the ever changing landscape of COVID-19, the CDC has updated their Guidance with respect to when an individual can be around others after they had or likely had COVID-19. The updated information provides more information for Employers to be aware of when dealing with employees with symptoms of COVID-19.


The CDC explained that if a person has recovered from COVID-19 and then has new symptoms of COVID-19, then that person may need an evaluation for reinfection. The CDC includes that the individual should isolate and contact a healthcare provider to be evaluated and maybe even re-tested for COVID-19.


If an employee has already been out of work due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, and then presents with symptoms again, then that employee must stay home, until they have been re-evaluated by a Health Care Provider.

What if an Employee Had Close Contact, but they Already had COVID?

The CDC enlightens us yet again and explains that when an Employee had a Close Contact (within 6 ft for 15 minutes) with someone who has COVID-19, that person does not need to stay home if:

  • that Employee had COVID-19 within the previous 3 months and
  • has recovered and
  • remains without COVID-19 symptoms (BUT SEE BELOW NOTE in regards to the loss of taste and smell.)


COVID POLICY UPDATE: Employers should update their policies to include this new standard. For employees who are conducting in-person business, this standard allows more employees to return to work and stay at work, despite a Close Contact.

Positive COVID Tests After Recovery

The CDC also explained that individuals who had COVID-19 and has recovered from COVID-19, may actually have low levels of the virus in their bodies for up to 3 months. This means, that even after an individual recovers from the virus, they can still test positive for the virus.


In order for Employees to return to work after a COVID-19 diagnosis, it is best practice to require all employees to complete the required quarantine (explained below) and provide a certification from a healthcare provider that the employee is fit for duty and does not have the virus.

While employers can always require a negative COVID-19 test prior to an employee’s return to work, based on the CDC’s latest guidance, employees could test positive for up to three months after recovering from the virus. Thus, based on this new information from the CDC, it makes sense to require employees to (1) complete the required quarantine, and (2) obtain and submit a certification from a healthcare provider that the employee is fit for duty and does not have the virus.

Employee Has COVID-19 and Has Symptoms

The CDC requires that the employee can be around others after:

  • 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving

NOTE: According to the CDC, the loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or even months after recovery. Employees who have this lingering symptom are allowed to return to the office. Employers should update their policies accordingly.

Employee Has COVID-19 and Has No Symptoms

The CDC requires that the employee can be around others after:

  • Individual can be with others after 10 days have passed since you had a positive viral test for COVID-19.


COVID POLICY UPDATE: Now, many employers have the simply policy that all employees must quarantine for 14 days after they have had either a Close Contact or a COVID-19 diagnosis. The 14 day policy is an all encompassing policy that satisfies both the above referenced requirements (10 days) and the CDC Close Contact Requirement (14 days). Employers who maintain a 14 day requirement, adding language to include the 24 hour fever free requirement would bolster the policy to ensure compliance.

Immunocompromised Employees

Employers must be aware that employees who are immunocompromised might require more time to stay home. Please check out my previous blog , that discusses when an employer can inquire about an employee’s underlying health condition, if at all. Generally, remember that an employer cannot assume an employee has an underlying health condition and must wait for the employee to request an accommodation based on same.

Employers should update their COVID policies in accordance with these updated standards set out by the CDC.




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