Healthcare workers exposed to coronavirus get new CDC guidelines

The CDC updated its guidance for healthcare workers on the front lines of the new coronavirus outbreak and is recommending that those who have been exposed to the virus but are not showing symptoms continue to work in some circumstances.

The updated guidelines advise that healthcare workers who have had low-risk exposure to the virus but are asymptomatic be allowed to continue to provide care if options to improve staffing have been exhausted at their organization. This decision should be made in consultation with the organization's occupational health program, the CDC stated.

Low-risk exposures generally refers to brief interactions with COVID-19 patients or longer contact with patients who were wearing a face mask while the healthcare worker also was wearing a face mask or respirator.

The CDC made several other updates to its guidelines, including removing a requirement that asks healthcare facilities to ensure clinicians with low-risk exposure to the virus do not have a fever or respiratory symptoms when reporting for work. It is now optional for facilities to verify absence of fever and respiratory symptoms among healthcare workers coming in to work.

The updated guidance also removes requirements for tracing the people an exposed healthcare worker might have come into contact with and conducting risk assessments for those workers. It acknowledges that "while contact tracing and risk assessment … remains the recommended strategy for identifying and reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to [healthcare personnel], patients, and others, it is not practical or achievable in all situations."

The CDC instead recommends that facilities focus on more routine practices, including asking healthcare workers to report recognized exposures to COVID-19, regularly monitor themselves for fever and symptoms of respiratory infection and not report to work when ill.

More articles on public health:
Flu has killed 20,000, CDC estimates
US coronavirus cases rise to 238; first vaccine trials seek volunteers
New Hampshire's first coronavirus patient ignored orders to self-isolate 


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