Too Close For Comfort: CDC Rule Update Impacts Workplaces
COVID-19 continues to serve as an imminent threat to the public. The risks extend to our places of business as well as work. As I’ve discussed in my previous posts, all employers can promote safety and minimize liability by establishing policies and protocols to govern conduct during COVID. The CDC recently released a rule revision that should be communicated and reflected in policy.
The new rule updates existing guidance which indicated that individuals who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of an infected person would be at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. The revised rule reads:
Someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
With this update, the CDC is expanding its definition of how the virus can be contracted. More specifically, individuals that may have had multiple interactions over a 1-day period that total 15 minutes may have increased risk (rather than just looking at one timeframe/distance). This change makes both contact tracing and quarantining procedures more challenging (but necessary).
Employers that cannot accommodate remote work can work on compliance by continuing to emphasize the importance of mask-wearing and updating policies to reflect the rule change and need for self-reporting. Employers can benefit from correctly addressing employees who disclose a diagnosis and taking necessary follow-up procedures (all of which should be articulated in policy). Feel free to reach out to me to discuss the CDC update or your respective COVID-19 policy.
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