Atlanta, GA—New guidance from the CDC is expected to ease staffing shortages among healthcare workers.

The CDC now recommends that vaccinated and boosted healthcare staff no longer quarantine after high-risk exposures. Public health officials have also reduced the isolation time for those testing positive, if asymptomatic.

The updated guidance was in direct response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases from the Omicron variant, while also remaining consistent with the current understanding of the disease trajectory, according to a press release.

Part of the new guidelines addresses contingency and crisis management for significant healthcare worker shortages, partly driven by COVID-19 cases.

"These updates provide healthcare facilities with the strategies to limit the effects of staff shortages caused by COVID-19 on patient care," according to the CDC.

The guidance provides for the following:

• 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 further decreased 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.

Public health officials explain that isolation relates to behavior after a confirmed infection, and quarantine is following exposure to the virus but without a confirmed infection.

Those specific guidelines apply only to the healthcare workforce and "may be revised to continue to protect both healthcare workers and patients as additional information on the Omicron variant becomes available to inform recommended actions," the CDC advises.

"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 Rochelle Walensky, MD. "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."

In the information posted on the CDC website, public health officials emphasize that healthcare facilities should ensure that SARS-CoV-2 testing is performed with a test that is capable of detecting SARS-CoV-2, even with currently circulating variants in the United States.

The guidance also added options that would allow asymptomatic healthcare personnel with a higher risk exposure who have not received all COVID-19 vaccine doses, including booster dose, to return to work prior to the previously recommended 14-day postexposure period of work restriction, assuming they do not develop symptoms or test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

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