The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a shorter recommended quarantine period for some healthcare workers who tested positive for COVID-19, saying Thursday that symptom-free employees should be able to return to work after seven. days of isolation, cut from 10, and a negative coronavirus test.
The new guidelines also state that “isolation times can be further reduced if there is a shortage of staff,” and that health-care workers who have received all doses of the vaccine, including boosters, do not need to be quarantined after high-risk exposure.
“As the medical community prepares for the expected increase in patient numbers due to Omicron, the CDC is updating our guidelines to reflect what we know about infection and exposure in the context of vaccinations and booster doses,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director. in the statement.
“Prevention remains our priority,” she added, “and I strongly recommend that all healthcare personnel get vaccinated and boosted.”
The decision came as scientists gather new information about the omicron variant of COVID-19, which is currently the dominant strain in the United States. This week, three separate research groups around the world published data showing that omicronic infections are more likely to cause mild illness than infections. previous strains. Research has also shown that third doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can provide significant protection against the omicron variant.
But only 62% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and even fewer have received boosters, so hospitals expect to need as many workers as possible to cope with the influx of new cases, especially after massive vacation travel and family gatherings, experts warn.
At least one group representing healthcare professionals has opposed the new CDC policy. National Nurses United, one of the largest registered nursing organizations in the country, issued a statement saying the guidelines “effectively guarantee more transmission” in hospitals.
“Easing governance on Covid-19 now, in the face of what may be the most devastating surge in Covid-19, will only lead to further transmission, illness and death,” group president Zenei Triunfo-Cortez said in a statement. …
The CDC also recently approved a “stay test” policy for schools to allow students exposed to the virus to stay in classrooms if the test is negative. Studies of such policies in Chicago and Los Angeles have shown that viral infections do not increase with this approach.