The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new COVID-19 guidance Aug. 11, seeming to acknowledge that the virus is here to stay.
The agency seems to be shifting “its focus from viral containment to lessening the risk of severe illness and death associated with the virus,” according to attorneys Corbin Carter and Michael Arnold with the law firm Mintz.
Infected individuals can mask if they need to be around others
If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, the CDC says they should stay home for at least five days and isolate from others in the home since they’re more likely to be the most infectious during the first five days.
Further, the CDC recommends those who test positive for COVID-19:
- wear a high-quality mask if they must be around others at home or in public
- don’t go places where they can’t wear a mask
- don’t travel
- stay home and separate from others as much as possible
- use a separate bathroom, if possible
- take steps to improve ventilation at home, if possible
- don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels and utensils, and
- monitor their symptoms and if a warning sign, such as trouble breathing, arises they should seek emergency medical care immediately.
Vaccines still important
As law firm Littler Mendelson notes, “The CDC continues to stress that ‘COVID-19 vaccines are highly protective against severe illness and death,’ but that staying up to date with boosters is key to reducing infection and transmission as well as the risk of ‘post-COVID-19 conditions’ or long COVID.” So vaccines are still a priority, according to the CDC.
The CDC is still concerned about the low booster rate in the U.S. and feels that “public health efforts need to continue to promote up-to-date vaccination for everyone.”
Littler Mendelson states that Omicron-variant-specific boosters are supposed to become available in September 2022 and those “will undoubtedly play a large role in future efforts to contain the pandemic.”
Some tips for employers
As for employer impact, the two Mintz attorneys say that employers should:
- consider whether to revisit quarantine and isolation policies they put in place throughout the pandemic
- keep in mind the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s June 2022 guidance on viral testing in the workplace, which states such mandatory testing must be job related and consistent with business necessity
- closely watch how state and local health departments adopt the revised CDC recommendations in the coming weeks to see if any of their requirements shift, and
- keep in mind that some states and local jurisdictions may continue to have stricter requirements despite the CDC’s latest, more lenient, guidance.