CDC updates healthcare worker isolation & quarantine guidance, cutting down isolation time

Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 5:02 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In anticipation of an increase in Omicron cases, the CDC has updated healthcare worker isolation and quarantine guidance.

The new guidelines lower the isolation time after a healthcare worker has been infected with COVID-19 from 10 days to 7.

This means healthcare workers with COVID-19, who are asymptomatic, can return to work after 7 days with a negative test, and isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.

In a statement, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “Our goal is to keep health care personnel and patients safe, and to address and prevent undue burden on our healthcare facilities.”

Dr. Michael Threlkeld, Director of Infection Control for Baptist Memphis, says the changes are reasonable.

“The CDC is just getting prepared for maybe what’s coming, we don’t know how severe the Omicron will ultimately be, but based on past track records we know that at times the healthcare system can get almost overwhelmed,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

While Shelby County reported 776 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, Dr. Threlkeld says hospitals are able to handle the situation now.

“All of the hospitals in the community are seeing an uptick in the number of cases and I think we’re seeing that nationwide and that’s probably going to increase in the coming few weeks,” Dr. Threlkeld said. “But at this point, none of the facilities here in town are suffering any major shortages. We still have adequate number of personnel and beds to handle the situation.”

The guidelines also state healthcare workers who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster shot, do not need to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures.

Dr. Threlkeld says getting vaccinated and boosted is the best line of defense.

“Certainly at our institutions here in the community I think most healthcare workers have been vaccinated and probably the majority of them either have or are about to be boosted,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

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