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CDC Updates Recommendations for Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently updated its guidance on how people should be managing COVID-19 effective August 11, 2022 for all employers. The CDC is moving away from distancing and contact tracing, and focusing more on severe illness and community levels.

The CDC noted that “high levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection and the many available tools to protect the general population, and protect people at higher risk, allow us to focus on protecting people from serious illness from COVID-19.”

The following are key changes employers should note:

  • Six-foot distancing is no longer included in the recommendations.
  • Regular, ongoing COVID-19 screening is not prioritized for asymptomatic individuals with no recent exposure to COVID-19. However, screening should continue in high-risk congregate settings, such as long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities. Screening testing strategies should include all individuals, regardless of their vaccination status.
  • Case investigation and contact tracing are only recommended in health care settings and certain high-risk congregate settings.
  • Individuals exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine unless they test positive for COVID-19 or they experience symptoms.
  • Individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 and compromised immune systems should stay home for 10 days and talk to their healthcare provider about ending their isolation after an infection.

The CDC continues to recommend that individuals should still test for COVID-19 if they are symptomatic or have been exposed to COVID-19. The CDC additionally suggests taking the following precautions:

  • Individuals who have had recent confirmed or suspected exposure to an infected person should wear a mask for 10 days around others when indoors in public and should receive testing at least 5 days after exposure (or sooner, if they are symptomatic), regardless of their vaccination status.
  • Individuals testing positive for COVID-19 should stay home for at least five days, and wear masks around others for 10 days.
  • Individuals should also continue to wear masks indoors if they are located in a community with a high COVID-19 level.

The CDC continues to recommend staying up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccinations to reduce the risk of severe illness.

Keep in mind that some states may have and continue to have more rigorous requirements. Employers should continue to track the requirements in their states of operation.

Additionally, although the CDC is trying to stay current with what people are experiencing across the country, employers must continue to adhere to OSHA’s requirement to provide a safe working environment for employees, which means taking into account their own specific situation (e.g., location, industry, working conditions, community exposure, etc.) when setting appropriate safety practices in the workplace.

Action Items

  1. Review the guidance here.
  2. Have safety practices and procedures updated to reflect current guidelines, where appropriate.
  3. Have appropriate personnel trained on safety requirements.

Staying on top of the latest developments impacting employers can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Check out the recent blog: Which Federal COVID-19-Related Laws and Regulations Are Still in Effect?