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Updated Exclusion Chart - Extending 5 Day Exclusions after Positive Tests in Some Cases

Breaking down the latest updates to the Exclusion Chart and latest CDC guidance

The CDC has added some confusing updates to its recent guidance that you may have gotten some questions about.


Here’s what the new CDC guidance says: 

“If an individual has access to a test and wants to test, the best approach is to use an antigen test towards the end of the 5-day isolation period. Collect the test sample only if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved (loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation). If your test result is positive, you should continue to isolate until day 10. If your test result is negative,  you can end isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until day 10.” 


So, let’s break this down.


A negative test NOT required to return to work after testing COVID positive.

  • These guidelines are optional if a person has access to a test and wants to take one. Realistically, getting multiple tests in under 5 days is a real challenge right now.

If an employee tests positive “toward the end” of their 5-day isolation period, they should stay home until Day 10. 

  • While this is vague and not very actionable as written, it’s reflective of the reality we are seeing, which is that employees are still sick after just 5 days, or they’re very confused about why they can return to work when they just tested positive.
  • To reflect this, we’re making one change…

We have updated our Exclusion Chart!

  • We’ve added the following to our exclusion chart for 5-day exclusions:
  • If an employee tests positive on Days 3-5, (regardless of their symptom status) extend from 5 days to 10 days from start date, even if they are now asymptomatic.

See the updated exclusion chart here!



Here’s what managers should know right now:


Work exclusions are a lot less consistent right now. Here’s why:

  • People with 5 day exclusions are still sick after 5 days
  • People are testing positive toward the end of their 5 days and being extended to 10 days. 
  • Some states, counties, and healthcare providers are still using 10 day guidance. 
  • If unvaccinated employees can’t isolate themselves in their home away from someone COVID+, they’ll need to stay out for a full 10 days. If they get sick themselves, it will restart with a 5-day exclusion from their own symptom start date, which may end up being longer than 10 days.


A huge number of people are sick right now.

  • Even vaccinated and boosted people are catching COVID right now. 
  • Dr. Fauci has said that nearly everyone in the US might catch the virus if it continues the way it’s going right now. 
  • Unvaccinated people are at much higher risk for getting very sick or ending up in the hospital. 


Encourage your employees to upload their vaccination status (to our system or whatever system you’re using).

  • If you’ve gotten the booster, or been vaccinated with Moderna or Pfier in the past 6 months, or J&J in the past 2, then you’re considered fully protected and don’t need to quarantine after close contact with someone COVID positive.
  • Everyone else unvaccinated or who hasn’t gotten a booster once they’re eligible must stay home for 5 days after their last exposure to someone with COVID. 
  • Encouraging vaccination and boosters can go a long way in keeping you fully staffed!


We’ll continue to monitor the changing CDC guidance, the OSHA vaccination or test mandate and the Supreme Court ruling about it, and any other updates as we navigate this surge. Thanks for your continued partnership as we work together to stay safe!


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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.