Michigan’s Changing Quarantining Rules: Some Conflicting Guidance
Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued new guidance that reinstates a 14-day quarantine standard for those who have had “close contact” with someone who has had COVID-19. Thus, effective April 5, 2021, the option for a 10-day quarantine has been eliminated. Those who have been fully vaccinated and do not have COVID-19 symptoms are exempt from the quarantine requirements.
A person is fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving either the second dose (Pfizer and Moderna) or after receiving a one-dose vaccine of Johnson & Johnson.
While the MDHHS guidance seems to be reverting to a full 14-day quarantine period for those in “close contact” with a COVID-positive individual, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) further muddy the guidance. Consider these two FAQs:
I have been around someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Do I need to quarantine?
1. If you were not considered a close contact: In general, it is encouraged that people stay home right now, as much as possible. Of course, if you develop symptoms, and are concerned about your health, contact your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms.
2. If you are a close contact: You should self-quarantine away from others and monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days since the last day you had contact with that person. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should immediately isolate and get tested. Please call your healthcare provider, look for a testing site using the Testing Site Look Up Tool or call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 for help finding a site near you.
3. If you are a healthcare worker: Follow your facility’s guidance.
Someone in my household was exposed (as a close contact) to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?
Have that person in the household self-quarantine for 14 days while monitoring for symptoms. Follow appropriate precautions for cleaning, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette. If you receive any instructions from that person’s employer or the local health department, follow them carefully.
Section 2 of the first FAQ clearly states that a 14-day quarantine period is mandatory and there is no option for 10 days (presumably even with a negative COVID-19 test). However, the second FAQ could be interpreted to mean that if an employee has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 has no symptoms, then they need only quarantine for 10 days, and then monitor their symptoms for an additional four days. Thus, there does seem to be some inconsistency between the guidance in the two FAQ’s.
In light of the guidance, companies may have employees who state that they have symptoms (but not tested positive) and they have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive. In that case, the recommended guidance states that a negative test result cannot be used to end the quarantine early in Michigan. The employee must quarantine for 14 days following exposure to the COVID-19-positive individual.
However, if an employee has symptoms of COVID-19 but has not been in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive, then the employee should get tested. If the employee tests negative, they should be able to come back to work immediately.