As the number of Omicron variant cases of COVID-19 grows, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued updated guidance for healthcare workers regarding their isolation and quarantine times after being infected.
Additionally, the CDC updated its guidance for contingency and crisis management in the face of significant healthcare workers shortages. The updates, the CDC said, would provide healthcare facilities with strategies to staff shortages.
“As the healthcare community prepares for an anticipated surge in patients due to Omicron, CDC is updating our recommendations to reflect what we know about infection and exposure in the context of vaccination and booster doses,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “Our goal is to keep healthcare personnel and patients safe and to address and prevent undue burden on our healthcare facilities. Our priority remains prevention—and I strongly encourage all healthcare personnel to get vaccinated and boosted.”
According to the updated guidance, healthcare workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after seven days if they have a negative COVID-19 test. The new guidance said that time could be cut further if there are staffing shortages. Additionally, healthcare workers who have received the COVID-19 vaccines, including the booster, will not be required to quarantine at home after a high-risk exposure.
The Infectious Diseases Society of American and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America said they support the updated guidance.
“These approaches are crucial to ensure we have the necessary health care workforce to respond to the growing Omicron surge, and we greatly appreciate CDC updating its guidance so rapidly,” the organizations said in a statement. “While data on Omicron remain limited, data from previous variants can be used to inform our current response and meet immediate pressing needs as we collect more data on Omicron. The best available data indicate that the majority of health care personnel are fully vaccinated, and vaccinated individuals generally experience shorter duration of illness and lower viral load and clear COVID-19 infection more rapidly.”
The CDC said the guidelines apply only to the healthcare workforce and may be revised as additional information on the Omicron variant become available.