BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — 23ABC is taking an in-depth look at the latest COVID guidelines issued to employees of the Bakersfield City School District.
All employees who test positive for COVID, regardless of their vaccination status, are required to isolate for at least five days. They may return to work after the fifth day if they no longer display any symptoms and test negative.
Unvaccinated employees exposed to someone with the virus are required to quarantine for five days. They will then be allowed to return only after providing a negative test result.
As for vaccinated workers exposed to someone with COVID: they will not be required to quarantine, but they will be tested for the virus five days after being exposed.
It is important to note the difference between isolation and quarantine.
Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.
- Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
- Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
In addition to serving as medical functions, isolation and quarantine also are “police power” functions, derived from the right of the state to take action affecting individuals for the benefit of society.
Legal Authorities for Isolation and Quarantine: Federal Law
The federal government derives its authority for isolation and quarantine from the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Under section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S. Code § 264), the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states.
The authority for carrying out these functions on a daily basis has been delegated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Legal Authorities for Isolation and Quarantine: CDC’s Role
Under 42 Code of Federal Regulations parts 70 and 71, CDC is authorized to detain, medically examine, and release persons arriving into the United States and traveling between states who are suspected of carrying these communicable diseases.
As part of its federal authority, CDC routinely monitors persons arriving at U.S. land border crossings and passengers and crew arriving at U.S. ports of entry for signs or symptoms of communicable diseases.
When alerted about an ill passenger or crew member by the pilot of a plane or captain of a ship, CDC may detain passengers and crew as necessary to investigate whether the cause of the illness on board is a communicable disease.
Legal Authorities for Isolation and Quarantine: State, Local, and Tribal Law
States have police power functions to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons within their borders. To control the spread of disease within their borders, states have laws to enforce the use of isolation and quarantine.
These laws can vary from state to state and can be specific or broad. In some states, local health authorities implement state law. In most states, breaking a quarantine order is a criminal misdemeanor.
Tribes also have police power authority to take actions that promote the health, safety, and welfare of their own tribal members. Tribal health authorities may enforce their own isolation and quarantine laws within tribal lands, if such laws exist.