Changes to Temporary COVID-19 Personnel Policy

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently shortened the recommended time for isolation of the public when infected with COVID-19. It is now recommended that people with COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days (instead of 10) if they are asymptomatic. If they continue to be asymptomatic or their symptoms are improving, and they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, they can come out of isolation after 5 days and return to work. 

Additionally, the guidance has changed for those who are exposed to COVID-19 and must quarantine. The state Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County have likewise changed their guidance. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of transmissions occur early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. 

Based on the new guidance, the county has updated the Temporary COVID-19 Personnel Policy for Executive branch employees to clarify which employees must be out of the workplace during this time and has reduced the required time away from 10 to 5 days. 

What’s changed in the Temporary COVID-19 Personnel Policy

A more concise “close contact” definition.

The addition of people who were “recently pregnant” to the list of people who may be at high risk.

Updates to Which Employees Must be Out of the Workplace During This Time, including: 

  • Reducing the number of days that an employee must be out of the workplace from a minimum of 10 days to 5 days, when:
    • The employee has had symptoms, if the symptoms are improving and they are fever-fee for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
    • The employee tests positive and is asymptomatic.
    • The employee tests positive and has or develops symptoms. This again requires that symptoms are improving, and that they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. 
    • The employee is not fully vaccinated, has had close contact with someone with COVID and is asymptomatic (this doesn’t apply to first responders or employees who have had a confirmed case of COVID within the last 90 days). 
  • No longer requiring employees to be out of the workplace following domestic or international travel.

Updates to the COVID Leave section, including:

  • Making clear that COVID Leave can be used for one shift per vaccination (including booster shots) for employees who are unable to work due to side effects; and
  • Adding COVID Leave cannot be used to obtain a COVID test. Employees may use sick leave for testing.  

Review the updated policy here.