Indoor Masks Recommended for All; California Mandates Vaccines for Healthcare Workers
New CDC Guidance Recommends Masks Indoors for Everyone (Yes, Even Fully-Vaccinated Individuals)
The Center for Disease Control recently updated its Public Health Recommendations after evaluating new evidence on the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. In particular, the CDC now recommends everyone in areas of “Substantial” or “High” transmission, even those who are fully-vaccinated, wear face coverings while indoors. The CDC also recommends indoor face coverings for teachers and students, regardless of vaccination status.
New Evidence Highlights Delta Dangers
Fully-vaccinated individuals enjoy a significantly lower chance of becoming infected by the Delta variant, and in rare cases where infection does occur, these individuals are at substantially reduced risk of illness or death.
However, preliminary evidence suggests that Delta-infected fully-vaccinated individuals carry the same viral load as unvaccinated individuals, and are capable of transmitting the virus. As the Delta variant is now the predominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, the CDC set forth new recommendations earlier this week.
Are You in a “Substantial” or “High” Transmission Area?
The COVID Data Tracker tracks transmission levels by county, rating areas from “Low” to “High” with regard to transmission rates. At the time of this writing, both San Diego and Los Angeles counties are considered “High” transmission areas.
Employers: Be Ready to Adapt
It is important to note that CDC recommendations are not orders, although many states and agencies will follow and implement these recommendations. Employers would be wise to monitor state and local guidance and mandates on these issues.
Meanwhile, as discussed immediately below, California healthcare employers must adapt to new regulations designed to combat the spread of the Delta variant.
California Again Leads the Way in Aggressively Combatting COVID-19; New Order Focuses on Healthcare Industry
Starting August 9, 2021, healthcare workers in California will be required to show proof of vaccination, or otherwise submit to weekly COVID-19 testing and wear masks. This heightened standard will also apply to California state employees. Said Governor Newsom of these efforts, “As the state’s largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, and we are encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same.”
As for healthcare workers, unvaccinated individuals will be subject to mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing, and will be required to wear a mask. Employers in healthcare settings will be expect to demonstrate full compliance with these requirements by August 23, 2021. California healthcare employers will need to have programs and policies in place – not just to ensure compliance with the order, but to properly document compliance as well. With 25 percent of Californians still unvaccinated, most California healthcare employers will need to adjust to these stricter regulations.
Of course, we are available to assist with preparing updated Covid Prevention Programs, or to address any other questions or concerns you may have.