CDC Issues New Return-to-Work Guidelines

Kathleen Doheny

April 09, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's  Coronavirus Resource Center.

The CDC is releasing new guidance on return-to-work rules for critical workers exposed to a COVID-19 case, or a suspected case, replacing previous guidance to stay home for 14 days.

"One of the most important things we can do is keep our critical workforce working," CDC director Robert Redfield said at a White House briefing Wednesday. "In certain circumstances they can go back to work," he said.

Neither Redfield nor the other governmental officials specified what counts as an essential worker, although it has generally referred to food-service and health care workers.

They must take their temperature before work, wear a facial mask at all times and practice social distancing when at work, the new guidance says. They cannot share headsets or other objects used near the face.

Employers must take the worker's temperature and assess each one for symptoms before work starts, sending a worker home if he or she is sick. Employers must increase the cleaning of frequently used surfaces, increase air exchange in the building and test the use of face masks to be sure they do not interfere with workflow.

Pressed on whether he would re-open the country at the end of the 30-day Stop the Spread effort on April 30 — since one model has revised the U.S. death toll down from 100,000-240,000 to 61,000 — President Donald Trump said meetings will take place soon to discuss the decision and that he will ''rely very heavily" on health experts.

"We know now for sure that the mitigation we have been doing is having a positive effect," said Anthony Fauci, MD, a coronavirus task force member and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Sources:

White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, April 9, 2020.

CDC: “Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19.”

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