Facing an uptick in Covid cases at the same time there is a shortage in health care workers, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just released new guidance shortening the isolation time for Covid-positive health care workers.
In addition to shortened isolation time, the guidelines also say that healthcare workers who are fully vaccinated with a booster no longer need to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures. That's despite the fact that a large number of fully vaccinated and boosted people are catching and spreading Covid-19, according to scientists.
CDC says the new guidance is based on a better understanding of Covid and its spread.
Also, many health care systems are suffering shortages of workers due to vaccine mandates. Shortening the isolation time for infected health care workers, and lifting the recommendation that exposed workers isolate at home, could help minimize the impact of ongoing worker shortages as Covid case increase.
Despite more people getting vaccinated, the number of Covid cases continues to climb rather than fall.
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Read the updated CDC guidance below:
CDC Releases Updated Healthcare Worker Isolation and Quarantine Guidance to Prepare for Anticipated Increase in Omicron Cases
With the growing number of COVID-19 cases from the Omicron variant, and consistent with current understanding of the disease trajectory, CDC is releasing updated guidance for isolation and quarantine for healthcare workers, decreasing their isolation time after infection with COVID-19. Additionally, CDC is releasing an update to guidance for contingency and crisis management in the setting of significant healthcare worker shortages. These updates provide healthcare facilities with the strategies to limit the effects of staff shortages caused by COVID-19 on patient care and note that:
- Healthcare workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 7 days with a negative test, and that isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.
- Healthcare workers who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster, do not need to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures.
Isolation relates to behavior after a confirmed infection, and quarantine is following exposure to the virus but without a confirmed infection.
These guidelines apply only to the healthcare workforce and may be revised to continue to protect both healthcare workers and patients as additional information on the Omicron variant becomes available to inform recommended actions. Additional information will be published as guidance on CDC’s website soon and shared with healthcare organizations and provider groups. CDC continues to evaluate isolation and quarantine recommendations for the broader population as we learn about the Omicron variant and will update the public as appropriate. CDC strongly encourages COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 and older and boosters for everyone 16 and older – vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and our healthcare system from the impact of COVID-19.
The following is attributable to CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky
“As the healthcare community prepares for an anticipated surge in patients due to Omicron, CDC is updating our recommendations to reflect what we know about infection and exposure in the context of vaccination and booster doses. Our goal is to keep healthcare personnel and patients safe, and to address and prevent undue burden on our healthcare facilities. Our priority, remains prevention—and I strongly encourage all healthcare personnel to get vaccinated and boosted.”