On Sept. 14, the New York State Department of Health updated its COVID-19 quarantine and isolation webpage to remove earlier written COVID-19 guidance and tables dated May 31. The webpage now states that New York is following the Aug. 24 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance regarding COVID-19 quarantine and isolation.
The state directs the public to that updated guidance and the CDC’s isolation and exposure calculator.
The latest CDC guidance removed the requirement of precautionary quarantines for any person exposed to COVID-19 who remained asymptomatic, irrespective of vaccination status. New York’s guidance previously imposed critical differences based on vaccination status. Persons who were fully up to date with a COVID-19 vaccination series and any boosters did not have to quarantine following a COVID exposure, whereas those not up to date with boosters would have to quarantine.
Under the current CDC guidance, persons exposed to others with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are no longer required to quarantine. Instead, they are to wear a high-quality mask or respirator for 10 days around others and should be tested for the virus five or more days after the exposure, even if they do not develop symptoms. Regardless of vaccination status, individuals who become symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves for at least five days or 24 hours after the abatement of symptoms, whichever is later, and to wear a mask around others for 10 days.
Notably, although New York appears to have abandoned precautionary quarantines by adopting the CDC guidance, the state Department of Health also updated its Affirmation of Quarantine form, which employees fill out, and “may be used as if it was an individual Quarantine Order issued by a County Commissioner of Public Health.” Employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine may be eligible for New York COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave. Thus, the state Department of Health is still enabling employees to use the Affirmation of Quarantine to trigger New York COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave for precautionary quarantines for themselves or a child or dependent, even though this leave is no longer recommended by the CDC.
As with all things related to COVID-19 and the workplace, employers should continue to monitor new developments in the legal landscape and confer with knowledgeable counsel about isolations, quarantines, and paid leaves related to COVID-19.
Devjani Mishra is an attorney with Littler in New York City. Ira Wincott and Sanjay Nair are attorneys with Littler in Long Island, N.Y. © 2022. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.