CDC updates COVID-19 work restrictions for health-care workers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Dec. 23 issued updated guidance for health-care workers with COVID-19 infection or exposure. Instead of the previous 10-day waiting period, any employee who has tested positive for COVID-19 may now return to work seven days after a positive test result or, if symptomatic, seven days from onset of symptoms.

This new guidance will apply, effective Dec. 28, to WashU Med employees if they are:

  • Fully vaccinated with or without a booster
  • Fever-free for 48 hours
  • Asymptomatic or with all symptoms markedly improved
  • Unable to work remotely

Occupational Health clearance is still required for return to work; the Occupational Health nurses will assess each employee to ensure it is safe to return to work under the new guidance.

Although the CDC has released updated isolation and quarantine guidance for the general public — allowing release of asymptomatic, COVID-19-positive individuals after five days of isolation with ongoing masking for five more days — we do not think this is appropriate for the health-care environment, where patients may be unmasked and are often at higher risk. For now, we are isolating non-health-care workers for seven days. We will adjust going forward as more information becomes available.