CDC updates COVID-19 guidance for health care personnel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its COVID-19 guidance for health care workers, stratifying the guidance to take into consideration symptom severity, immune status and test results.

Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 was released on Dec. 23.

Key takeaways include:

- Health care workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic and who are not immunocompromised can return to work after seven days with a negative test in the last 48 hours, or 10 days with no test results. A worker who has been infected but has no symptoms and tests negative at day five, can return to work seven days after first being sick. However, if they test positive at days five to seven, they must wait until 10 days after first being sick to return to work.

- Health care workers who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster, can continue working after high-risk exposure though testing 24 hours and again five to seven days after exposure is recommended.

The CDC noted that these guidelines only apply to the health care workforce and may be revised to continue to protect both health care workers and patients as additional information on the Omicron variant becomes available to inform recommended actions. The agency also updated its guidance to limit the effects of staff shortages caused by COVID-19 on patient care.

If a patient has suspected/confirmed COVID-19, the ADA recommends that dentists:

- Defer nonemergency procedures. Give the patient a mask, send them home if not acutely sick and/or refer a visibly sick patient to the appropriate facility.

- Clean and disinfect the operatory and equipment according to the CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings. This includes cleaning, disinfecting or discarding the surface, supplies, or equipment located within 6 feet of symptomatic patients and using products with Environment Protection Agency-approved emerging viral pathogens claims that have qualified under EPA's emerging viral pathogens program from use against COVID-19.

The CDC has also updated its guidance for the public. On Dec. 27 the agency released new recommendations for people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic.

According to the updated guidance, the recommended isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 but do not have symptoms, is now five days, down from the agency's previous recommendation of 10 days. The change was prompted by the "science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the [one to two] days prior to onset of symptoms and the [two to three] days after," according to a CDC news release.

Visit for the latest ADA information on the coronavirus pandemic.

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