MDHHS Reinstates Mandatory 14-Day Quarantine for Persons in Close Contact with COVID-19 Cases
On April 5, 2021, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reinstated the standard 14-day quarantine for close contacts of COVID-19 cases. This mandatory 14-day quarantine standard eliminates (for now) the 10-day quarantine option for close contacts with COVID-19 cases previously announced on December 4, 2020. The announced reason for the change is increasing COVID-19 rates and variant spreads throughout Michigan. The state's quarantine requirements and other COVID-19 precautions have changed in the past and are subject to change in the future. Varnum will continue to monitor requirements and advise of any changes as they occur.
The current 14-day quarantine requirement applies to “close contacts” which are currently defined in the FAQs issued by MDHHS as being within approximately six feet (two meters) of a COVID-19 case for 15 minutes, including brief encounters in a 24-hour period totaling 15 minutes or more; or having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case. The MDHHS quarantine requirement has certain exemptions, outlined below, but otherwise requires individuals meeting the definition of "close contact" to quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days. If the person shows symptoms within 14 days following exposure they should immediately isolate and get tested.
Fully Vaccinated Individuals Not Experiencing Symptoms are Exempt from the Mandatory State Required 14-Day Quarantine for Close Contacts of COVID-19 Cases
The MDHHS has created an exception to quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated individuals. The 14-day quarantine exception only applies to individuals not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and who have been fully vaccinated. The definition of fully vaccinated depends on the type of vaccine received. Individuals receiving the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the second dose. Individuals receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the vaccine. Employers may request employees to provide proof of fully vaccinated status. Employers may request to see the employees COVID-19 Vaccination Record to confirm exemption from quarantine. Employers should not seek any medical information in addition to the COVID-19 Vaccination Record to avoid running afoul of the American with Disabilities Act.
Other Notable Exemptions from Quarantine Requirements
The FAQs did not change the current guidance with respect to healthcare workers who may have been exposed. Quarantine requirements for certain such individuals may vary based upon the risk level of exposure and other factors. See MDHHS Return to Work & Health Monitoring for Health Care Employees issued on February 19, 2021.
Similarly, limited exemptions remain in place to permit certain essential workers who are otherwise subject to quarantine to continue to perform on-site duties when strictly necessary to allow for continued operation of a facility when cessation of that facility's operations would cause serious harm or danger to public health or safety. Such exemptions apply only to a narrow category of workers identified by Michigan's COVID-19 Employment Rights statute.
The FAQs also recognize an exemption for people who have recently recovered from COVID-19 and are not experiencing symptoms. If a person was diagnosed with COVID-19, has recovered and less than 90 days have passed since the person's symptoms of the diagnosis began, then quarantine is currently not required even if that individual experiences "close contact" that would otherwise trigger a quarantine requirement.
An Ever-Changing Situation
State COVID-19 precautions and requirements are subject to frequent change. Varnum’s labor and employment team continues to monitor and report as changes occur. When making decisions about COVID-19 requirements, we recommend contacting a member of Varnum's labor and employment practice team to provide an updated status of state and federal requirements at the time decisions need to be made.
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