The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance for infection prevention and control during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the agency says that fully vaccinated people in counties with low to moderate community transmission do not need to wear respirators or masks while inside healthcare facilities. However, the CDC says the “safest practice” is for everyone to wear a face covering, or what the agency refers to as “source control.”
In addition, fully vaccinated healthcare personnel could choose not to wear source control or physically distance when they are in well-defined areas that are restricted from patient access (e.g., staff meeting rooms or kitchen). However, they should wear source control when they are in areas of the healthcare facility where they could encounter patients (e.g., hospital cafeteria or common halls and corridors).
Source control options for healthcare personnel include:
· A NIOSH-approved N95 or equivalent or higher-level respirator
· A respirator approved under standards used in other countries that are similar to NIOSH-approved N95 filtering facepiece respirators (note: these should not be used instead of a NIOSH-approved respirator when respiratory protection is indicated)
· A well-fitting mask.
The agency also clarified the recommended intervals for testing. The CDC said asymptomatic healthcare personnel with a higher-risk exposure and patients with close contact with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of vaccination status, should have a series of two viral tests for SARS-CoV-2 infection. In these situations, testing is recommended immediately (but not earlier than 2 days after the exposure) and, if negative, again 5–7 days after the exposure. However, testing is not recommended for people who have had SARS-CoV-2 infection in the last 90 days if they remain asymptomatic; this is because some people may have detectable virus from their prior infection during this period.
The agency plans to host a virtual meeting (Project Firstline Townhall: IPC Guidance Update) on September 17 to discuss the updated recommendations. To register: https://cdc.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_9YVQwF9RThSbxC4-JHdABw