TOP TIP: CDC Updates Guidelines On When COVID-19-Positive Workers Can Return


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its guidance on when those with COVID-19 may be released from self-isolation and thereby return to work.

Previously, the CDC had identified two different strategies for this determination: symptom-based and test-based. Under the latter, an individual could stop self-isolating once symptoms abated and the individual had two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart. The CDC no longer recommends the test-based strategy in general, since studies have shown that the vast majority of those who test negative also meet the criteria of the symptom-based strategy. The test-based strategy may still be used for those who are severely immunocompromised, in consultation with infectious disease experts.

Additionally, the CDC updated its symptom-based strategy. The CDC now states that self-isolation of those with symptoms may be discontinued when:

  • At least 10 days (up to 20 for those with severe illness) have passed since symptom onset and
  • At least 24 hours (previously 72 hours) have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms (previously limited just to respiratory symptoms) have improved

Those without symptoms may discontinue self-isolation after 10 days have passed from the positive COVID-19 test.