Governor Newsom Rejects New CDC Guidelines Regarding Quarantining After International Travel and Testing After Known Exposure

On August 26, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California would not follow the CDC’s recent controversial revisions to their COVID-19 guidelines. The CDC’s revisions removed quarantine recommendations for international travelers and testing recommendations for asymptomatic people who have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Prior to the revised guidance, the CDC recommended that all international travelers self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to the country. The CDC also recommended that all individuals exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 should get tested, even if they are asymptomatic. These recommendations were made because (i) international travel puts people at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 and (ii) COVID-19 can be spread by asymptomatic people.

The CDC’s new guidelines state that those who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 do not “necessarily need a test” unless they are showing symptoms. However, people from vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, should still be tested if they are exposed, even if they are asymptomatic. Additionally, the CDC no longer recommends that international travelers self-quarantine. Instead, they provide country-specific recommendations based on risk assessment. Even people traveling from high-risk countries, such as Russia, are no longer recommended to self-quarantine by the CDC.

California, along with other states, has refused to follow these new CDC guidelines. California therefore continues to require all international travelers, including U.S. citizens, to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning to California. Furthermore, California will continue to follow the previous CDC guidelines on testing. California recently signed a $1.4 billion contract with a medical diagnostics company in an effort to dramatically increase the number of COVID-19 tests the state can process.

Many medical experts have come out in opposition to the new CDC guidelines. The American Medical Association issued a statement indicating that the new guidance could lead to a spike in cases. Furthermore, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a lead member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, stated that he was not involved in developing the new guidelines and expressed his concern that the guidelines could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

All California residents should continue to follow the CDC’s previous guidelines by self-quarantining after international travel and getting tested after exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, even if you are asymptomatic.

For more information about California’s guidelines for COVID-19 please visit https://covid19.ca.gov/. For industry specific guidance please visit https://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/.

If you have legal questions, consult your employment and labor counsel.

By: Jolene Kramer and Alex Milne | September 18, 2020

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