CDC Issues New COVID-19 Framework
February 28, 2022
On Friday, February 25, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new framework for COVID-19 prevention measures, removing face covering recommendations for significant portions of the country. The CDC’s recommendations are now community based and use three levels of risk – low, medium and high. Face coverings are recommended only when a community’s COVID-19 level is high.
Community levels are determined by a combination of three pieces of information: new hospitalizations for COVID-19, current hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients or hospital capacity, and new COVID-19 cases. The CDC explains:
At the low level, there is limited impact on the healthcare system and low amounts of severe disease in the community. People should stay up to date with their vaccines and get tested if they’re sick. At the medium level, more people are experiencing severe disease in the community and they’re starting to see more impact on the health healthcare system. At this level, CDC recommends that people who are high risk, such as someone who is immunocompromised, should talk to their healthcare provider about taking additional precautions and may choose to wear a mask. As communities enter into the high level, there is high amount of people experiencing severe disease and high potential for healthcare systems strains. At the high level, CDC recommends that everyone wear a mask indoors, in public, including in schools.
The CDC recommends that everyone stay up to date on vaccines and get tested if they are sick without regard to their community level. Moreover, there are some situations where people should always wear a mask: if you have symptoms, if you have tested positive, or if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
While cautioning that its guidance may change in the future if necessary, the CDC explains the rationale behind its relaxed recommendations as follows:
We’re in a stronger place today as a nation with more tools to protect ourselves in our communities from COVID 19, like vaccination, boosters, broader access to testing, availability of high quality masks, accessibility to new treatments, and improved ventilation. Over 200 million people have received a primary vaccine series and nearly 100 million have been boosted and millions more have had prior disease. With widespread population immunity, the overall risk of severe disease is now generally lower.
This is certainly welcome news! As you know, Nevada has already removed its mask mandate, but employers can still require face coverings even if their community level is rated as low or medium by the CDC. All Nevada employers still have a duty to protect employees from COVID-19 and must continue to follow the requirements of the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NV OSHA). Healthcare employers have additional requirements from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services and/or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
KZA attorneys are always available to help you with these changes and requirements.
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