CDC Issues Updated Return to Work Guidance for Healthcare Personnel

By: Jennifer L. Strange

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) previously recommended that people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 self-quarantine for 14 days.  However, the CDC recently updated its return to work guidance for healthcare personnel, allowing healthcare personnel to return to work sooner than the previous 14-day period if certain criteria are met. 

CRITERIA FOR RETURNING TO WORK:  According to the updated guidance, an employee should not return to work in a healthcare setting until:

  • The employee no longer has a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medication);
  • Respiratory symptoms have improved; AND
  • The employee has received two negative tests in a row, at least 24 hours apart (that meets CDC testing guidelines)

This test-based strategy is the CDC’s preferred method for determining when healthcare personnel can return to work.  If a test-based strategy cannot be used, an employee should not return to work in a healthcare setting until:

  • At least 3 days have passed since recovery (defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and respiratory symptoms have improved)
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

Healthcare personnel with confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms should not return to work in a healthcare setting until 10 days have passed since the date of the first positive COVID-19 test (assuming they did not develop symptoms after the positive test).  

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HEALTHCARE PERSONNEL RETURN TO WORK?  The CDC recommends that healthcare personnel returning to work wear a facemask at all times while in the healthcare setting until all symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer.  Further, the employee should be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised patients until 14 days after illness onset and the employee should continue to self-monitor for symptoms.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR INDIANA?  This CDC return to work guidance clearly states that it may be adapted by State and local health departments to respond to local circumstances.  Until/unless the Indiana State Department of Health issues State-specific guidance, healthcare facilities should follow the CDC’s recommendations. 

The CDC’s updated guidance can be found here.

If you have questions about return to work guidance for healthcare personnel, contact your DSV attorney or Jennifer L. Strange at

***The information contained on this website is for informational purposes and is not intended as formal legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such.  No attorney client relationship is established or intended as a result of the information contained on this website.***