New Mask Mandates Cause Confusion

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Attorneys attempt to sort this latest COVID-19 mess out for employers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its most recent recommendation on July 30, amending its previous guidance issued just three days before. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of large and high transmission. According to the administration, 76.5 percent of counties in the United States were in a state of emergency as of July 30. Although some have accused the CDC of rushing the gun based on a single small epidemic, Walensky said that “this finding is troubling and was a critical discovery leading to CDC’s modified mask recommendation.” “The masking guideline was amended to ensure that the vaccinated population did not unintentionally spread the virus to others, especially their unvaccinated or immunocompromised loved ones,” according to the CDC.

What Should Employers Do?

According to attorney Jennifer B. Rubin of the Mintz law firm, the latest guideline from the CDC has irritated some companies who are striving to design acceptable rules to return their personnel to offices and other work sites. “CDC’s latest recommendations is more proof that resilient workplaces and workplace practices are based on both flexibility and consistency,” she says. While the evolving nature of the pandemic makes future-proofing the workplace difficult, we feel that taking a mindful approach is the best vaccine against a chaotic return to work.” Employers can mandate employees to get vaccinated in most instances, despite what some people believe, as we’ve seen with numerous healthcare facilities and, under President Biden’s instructions, the federal workforce, military personnel, and USPS employees. All state employees in California are also required to be immunized.

Watch for Further Changes

According to attorneys from the Jackson Lewis law firm, the CDC previously suggested that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of transmission level, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in their household is unvaccinated. The CDC’s announcement on July 30 reinforced and enlarged that guidance, particularly in regards to exposure to someone else who has tested positive. They recommend getting tested three to five days after a known exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, and wearing a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until they receive a negative test result. “The CDC continues to advise vaccinated people to isolate and get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms, and to isolate if they test positive,” says the CDC. Employers in the healthcare industry should continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthcare Infection and Prevention Control Recommendations, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard, where applicable.

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