The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for handling critical infrastructure employees who are asymptomatic after exposure to individuals suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
On Nov. 16, the CDC updated its prior partial exemption of the 14-day quarantine guidance for critical infrastructure workers with the caveat that this should be done only as a last resort.
The exemption allowed critical infrastructure employees exposed to the virus to continue to work as long as the worker remained asymptomatic and employers:
- encouraged employees to screen for symptoms prior to reporting to work
- screened employees for symptoms upon their arrival at the worksite
- regularly monitored employees for symptoms while at work
- required employees to wear face coverings at work
- required employees to maintain social distance at work, and
- routinely cleaned and disinfected areas accessed by employees.
The clarified guidance states, “This option should be used as a last resort and only in limited circumstances, such as when cessation of operation of a facility may cause serious harm or danger to public health or safety.”
According to the CDC, a 14-day self-quarantine “is still the safest approach to limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chance of an outbreak among the workforce” because “permitting potentially exposed employees to continue to work carries considerable risk to other workers.”
So use of exposed workers “should not be the first or most appropriate option.”