CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidance For Critical Infrastructure Workers
November 23, 2020
On November 16, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 guidance on the application of work restrictions to critical infrastructure workers who have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. A critical infrastructure worker is a person who engages in operations or services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability in industries such as medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works.
The CDC’s updated guidance “is intended to assist with the assessment of risk and application of work restrictions for critical infrastructure workers who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, but are not experiencing symptoms and have not tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Separate guidance is available for healthcare personnel, international travelers, and individuals with community-related exposure.”
The CDC reiterates that individuals (including critical infrastructure workers) exposed to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be quarantined for 14 days, and explains: “Reintegrating exposed workers who are not experiencing any symptoms and who have not tested positive back into onsite operations carries considerable risk to other workers because many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic but can still spread disease, and tests are imperfect. Bringing exposed workers back should not be the first or most appropriate option to pursue in managing critical work tasks. Quarantine for 14 days is still the safest approach to limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the chance of an outbreak among the workforce.”
While employers “may consider allowing exposed and asymptomatic critical infrastructure workers to continue to work in select instances when it is necessary to preserve the function of critical infrastructure workplaces,” this option should be used “as a last resort and only in limited circumstances, such as when cessation of operation of a facility may cause serious harm or danger to public health or safety.”
If you employ critical infrastructure workers, we encourage you to carefully review this updated guidance. Additionally, the CDC recommends that such employers work closely with their state and local health officials to determine “the safest way to reintegrate exposed workers who are not experiencing any symptoms and have not tested positive back into onsite operations.”
As always, KZA attorneys are available to assist you in navigating these ever-evolving guidelines.
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