On Thursday, August 11, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new guidelines to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risk. It can be found here: CDC streamlines COVID-19 guidance to help the public better protect themselves and understand their risk | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC
The CDC’s reasoning is that there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic due to the availability of many tools for reducing the risk. These tools include vaccinations, boosters, and treatments. It does point out that the pandemic is not over but this guidance “helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives”.
This guidance is for the general population and CDC has stated that in the coming weeks they will work to align other guidance documents such as those for healthcare, congregate settings at higher risk of transmission, and travel.
The updates in this guidance include the following:
• Stay up-to-date with vaccination as it helps protect you from serious illness, hospitalization, and death. Because vaccines can diminish over time and especially against the new variants, it’s important to stay up-to-date with your vaccine and boosters plus be aware of any new vaccines that become available.
• Instead of quarantining if you are exposed to COVID-19, wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5.
• Continue to isolate from others when you have COVID-19. Stay home for 5 days and isolate from others in your home. If you must be around others at home and in public, then wear a high-quality mask. Isolation parameters:
o If fever-free for 24 hours without use of medication, and symptoms are improving or you never had symptoms, then end isolation after day 5.
o Avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11.
o Wear a high-quality mask through day 10.
• Screening testing of asymptomatic people without known exposures is no longer recommended in most community settings.
• Physical distancing is still one of the components for protecting yourself and others, however, CDC states to assess if this is still necessary if you’re looking at local COVID-19 Community Levels and the importance of ventilation.
CDC is stating that they will continue to focus their efforts on preventing severe illness and post-COVID conditions along with ensuring that everyone have the information and tools they need to lower their risk.
At this writing OSHA has not updated its COVID-19 workplace safety recommendations, but apparently has intentions to issue an update soon. As an employer you need to remember that OSHA largely defers to the CDC when it comes to this type of guidance. It is your duty as an employer to protect your workers from recognized hazards and this continues to be a concern so ensure that you are able to justify that the controls you have in place are protecting your workers from exposure to COVID-19 in your workplace.
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