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Georgia Governor Kemp Clarifies Quarantine Requirements for “Fully Vaccinated” Long-Term Care Facility Staff and Residents

Written by: Brittany H. Cone, Esq. and Jordan Johnson, Esq.

On February 26, 2021, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp extended the state Public Health State of Emergency (Executive Order 02.26.21.01) due to COVID-19 through April 6, 2021. Governor Kemp also extended the guidance for Empowering a Healthy Georgia in response to COVID-19 from March 1 to March 15 with several changes (Executive Order 02.26.21.02). One such change includes revisions to the quarantine protocol to more closely resemble the CDC’s most recent guidance regarding individuals who have been “fully vaccinated” or “recently recovered” from COVID-19.

Generally, Governor Kemp’s Executive Order and the CDC guidance no longer require fully vaccinated persons or those recovered from a lab confirmed COVID-19 positive test to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19. “Fully vaccinated” in this context means that the individual is more than 2 weeks from receipt of the final dose (second of a two-dose vaccine or the sole dose of a single-dose vaccine) and no more than 3 months have passed since receipt of that final dose. Likewise, those who have recovered from a lab confirmed COVID-19 positive test, satisfied the self-isolation requirements and are within 90 days of symptom onset or of the first COVID-19 test, if asymptomatic during initial positive test. While these individuals are not required to quarantine, they should be actively monitored for COVID-19 symptoms and must remain asymptomatic. These rules are expressly applicable to staff of Long-Term Care Facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, personal care homes, and assisted living communities.

As of the date of this article, the CDC guidance carves out an exception to the general “fully vaccinated” and “recently recovered” no quarantine requirement. This exception expressly requires that vaccinated inpatients and residents in healthcare settings should continue to quarantine following exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The CDC cites the uncertainties regarding vaccine effectiveness in this population, the higher risk of severe illness and death, and challenges with social distancing in healthcare settings. Based on the CDC’s prior use and definition of “healthcare setting”, this guidance is applicable to all Long-term Care Facilities including skilled nursing facilities, personal care homes, and assisted living facilities. The guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health mirrors the CDC.