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IDH Issues Updated Quarantine Guidance for LTC Staff - IHCA

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IDH Issues Updated Quarantine Guidance for LTC Staff

Posted Dec 11, 20204 min Read

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On December 11, 2020, the Indiana Department of Health (IDH) issued updated quarantine guidance for long-term care staff in light of the CCDC’s updated guidance that quarantine for exposure to COVID-19 can be reduced to 10 or 7 days for the general population, rather than 14 days.

Under IDH’s new quarantine guidance, long-term care facilities operating in a contingency or crisis staffing status can allow staff to use the 10 or 7 day quarantine timelines for exposure, as outlined further below.  Facilities not operating in a contingency or crisis staffing status should continue to utilize the 14 day quarantine timeline for long-term care staff who have been exposed the COVID-19.  The CDC’s Contingency Staffing Strategies to Mitigate Staffing Shortages can be found here, and the CDC defines close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days prior to symptom onset (or, for asymptomatic persons 2 days prior to positive specimen collection).  IDH’s FAQ document on close contacts / exposure can be found here.

IDH’s new quarantine guidance applies to comprehensive care facilities (nursing facilities), residential care facilities (licensed assisted living), and unlicensed assisted living communities.

IDH’s new quarantine guidance does not apply to long-term care residents or visitors, who should continue to quarantine for 14 days when exposed to COVID-19, even if the facility is operating in a contingency or crisis staffing status.  This guidance also does not apply to long-term care staff who are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19; those staff members should continue to adhere to the CDC’s Return to Work Criteria.

Highlights for long-term care staff working in a facility operating in a contingency or crisis staffing status under the updated quarantine guidance are follows:

  • In addition to the 14-day quarantine timeframe, IDH will support the following quarantine timeframes for long-term care staff who are exposed to COVID-19 and working in a facility operating in a contingency or crisis staffing status:
    • 10 Days:  Long-term care staff who are in quarantine for being a close contact / exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 may return to work 10 days after the exposure, if they have developed no COVID-19 related symptoms.  A test is not required to return to work, although the staff member will be subject to any outbreak or routine testing upon returning.
    • 7 Days:  Long-term care staff who are in quarantine for being a close contact / exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 may return to work 7 days after the exposure, if they have developed no COVID-19 related symptoms and have a negative COVID-19 test performed on day 5, 6, or 7 of quarantine. A negative PCR or antigen test is acceptable, including BinaxNOW™ point-of-card testing cards, but antibody tests are not acceptable for this requirement.  Regardless of whether the staff members tests negative on day 5, 6, or 7 of quarantine, they cannot return to work until day 8, and the staff must have the negative test result on day 8 to return.
  • Staff who quarantine for 7 or 10 days can work in any area of the facility (i.e., Red, Yellow, or Green) upon return but should continue to reduce their contact with other staff until 14 days have passed since the initial close contact / exposure, such as not carpooling with fellow staff members and reducing contact with fellow staff during breaks.

As stated above, long-term care residents should continue to quarantine for 14 days when exposed to COVID-19.  Family members and other visitors of long-term care facilities should also adhere to the 14 day timeline before visiting residents in long-term care facilities once again.