The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) changed the definition of COVID-19 “close contact” to exclude individuals who are masked in non-healthcare and non-residential settings.
In other words, if a person (outside of healthcare and residential settings) is exposed to someone positive for COVID-19, then they do not need to quarantine for 14 days if there was continuous masking. The person positive for COVID-19 still must follow the isolation guidance.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not changed their guidance on quarantine after close contact exposure, which is still quarantining for 14 days if there was close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. This arguably leaves two very different quarantine requirements and adds to the general confusion in dealing with contact tracing and quarantine.
This change was highlighted by Governor Kim Reynolds in a press conference on September 29, 2020, discussing public schools. However, the change certainly may apply to businesses and employers.
The Big Picture
Iowa employers who wish to adopt the IDPH’s policy should discuss with legal counsel and ensure any changes are compliant with the Back-to-Business law, passed earlier this year, that provides a safe harbor against COVID-19 exposure lawsuits for those following the advice and recommendations of public health officials.
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