Home Health

CDC updates emergency guidance for healthcare workers with or exposed to COVID-19

With the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance for isolation and quarantine for healthcare workers on Dec. 23, 2021.

The move decreases 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.

According to the CDC release, 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.

According to the CDC website, the definition of higher-risk exposure also was updated to include use of a facemask (instead of a respirator) by health care personnel if the infected patient is not also wearing a facemask or cloth mask.