Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance for isolation and quarantine relating to COVID-19 on December 27, 2021, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) did not follow suit until yesterday, January 4, 2022. In an interim guidance document made available online and sent to local health departments, school districts, congregate care settings and healthcare providers, NYSDOH stated that it is “aligning with CDC’s updated isolation and quarantine recommendations” but, because CDC guidance is in flux and expected to be updated as further evidence relating to the current surge is gathered, NYSDOH’s policy is being issued on an interim basis and is subject to change.

Isolation for the General Population

NYSDOH now requires that a person who tests positive for COVID-19 or experiences symptoms of COVID-19 isolate for five days after symptom onset or, if asymptomatic, after receiving a positive test. Subsequently:

  • For most people, if asymptomatic at the end of five days or symptoms are improving and the person has been without a fever for at least twenty-four hours, isolation ends and the individual must wear a well-fitting mask while around others for five additional days. ​Presumably (though not stated explicitly by NYSDOH), if a person’s symptoms are not improving on the fifth day of isolation, isolation should continue until symptoms begin improving and the individual has been without a fever for at least twenty-four hours.
  • Individuals who are unable to wear a well-fitting mask or are moderately/severely immunocompromised may not discontinue isolation after the initial five days. In most cases, isolation may be ended after ten total days have elapsed and the individual has been without a fever for at least twenty-four hours. However, if such a person was “severely ill” with COVID-19 (i.e., hospitalized, on a ventilator or subject to intensive care), then extending isolation to a total of twenty days “may” be warranted.
  • Quarantine for the General Population

    If a person is exposed to COVID-19, quarantine requirements depend on the individual’s vaccination status. Specifically:

  • If a person is unvaccinated or is vaccinated but has not received a booster for which the person is eligible, the individual must quarantine for five days after exposure and wear a well-fitting mask around others for five additional days after quarantine ends. Testing at the end of the initial five day period is recommended but not required. ​
  • If a person is fully vaccinated and boosted, or fully vaccinated and not yet eligible for a booster, the individual does not need to quarantine but is required to wear well-fitting mask around others for ten days after exposure. Again, testing at the end of the initial five day period is recommended but not required. ​
  • ​If symptoms develop for someone who was exposed to COVID-19, the person should continue quarantining (or begin/return to quarantine, as applicable) and seek testing. Quarantine will end if a negative result is received. If a person does not test, or tests positive, they must follow the isolation procedures described above.

    Quarantine and Isolation for Healthcare Workers

    On December 24, 2021, NYSDOH updated its guidance for quarantine and isolation of healthcare workers and “other critical workforce.” That guidance is no longer applicable to “other critical workforce” members and those individuals should now follow the January 4th guidance. However, the December 24th guidance remains in effect for healthcare workers.


    If you have any questions concerning quarantine and isolation requirements, please contact Jessica M. Baquet at (516) 393-8292 or