JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed its guidelines for health care workers who need to quarantine because they tested positive for COVID-19.
The new guidelines recommend health care workers quarantine for seven days, maybe even less with a negative COVID-19 test.
Doctors in Jacksonville say these new guidelines are a long time coming. Health experts say a person is less contagious over time and reducing the amount of quarantine time will prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed.
Vincy Samuels is the director of Employee Health at Baptist Health. Samuels told News4JAX, “As a health care institution, we closely evaluate every health care worker before we determine their work status.”
Samuels said the new CDC guidelines will be beneficial for hospitals experiencing surges in COVID-19 cases. “If we do end up with a surge coming up, then we’ll be prepared for that accordingly,” Samuels said.
The new CDC guidelines state that health care workers who get diagnosed with COVID-19 will now be allowed to come back to work after seven days if they test negative and don’t have symptoms. The previous guideline was to quarantine for 10 days.
The CDC also says isolation time can be cut to five days, or even fewer, if there are severe staffing shortages.
“So, typically, people are in fact most infectious at the beginning when they first develop symptoms,” Samuels said. “So as they go along through the days, usually they become less infectious and less of a transmission risk.”
Doctors say the omicron variant has infected more people in the United States than delta.
Dr. Mobeen Rathore is the chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Immunology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “Omicron, the disease spreads much faster, the infection is about 25% or 30%. Much easier to get compared to delta,” Rathore said.
Rathore said that because the omicron variant has mild symptoms, much like a cold, these new CDC guidelines will be helpful especially in doctor’s offices. “Most people who get the omicron infection are not going to be very sick to be in the hospital,” Rathore said.
The CDC also states that 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.
“And I think now with CDC looking at the public health situation made the decision that that would be the right thing to do at this time,” Rathore said. “So I think that would be a big help in terms of health care workers, staffing, the clinics and offices and hospitals everywhere.”