In late December 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated COVID-19 guidance, shortening the recommended time for isolation for those who tested positive for COVID-19 to five days followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. Organizations that advocate for the well-being of healthcare professionals, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA) voiced their concerns and urged national leaders to prioritize those on the frontlines.
“ANA is deeply concerned about the latest guidance from CDC for healthcare settings, citing insufficient evidence, concern for healthcare workers’ safety, and the potential for it to lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases,” ANA said. “The emergency guidance shortens the time for isolation and quarantine for healthcare workers infected with or exposed to COVID-19. This guidance is premature given what is known about the Omicron variant and tips toward economic needs as opposed to the health needs of nurses and other healthcare workers.”
According to CDC’s updated guidance, an individual should isolate when sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, even without symptoms, for five days (day one is the first full day after developing symptoms or being tested). CDC’s guidelines state that an individual can end isolation after five full days if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their symptoms are improving. In the absence of symptoms, isolation ends five full days after a positive test.
“This guidance is especially problematic when reliable testing is not widely available and particularly difficult to access in places experiencing surge conditions,” ANA said. “ANA is concerned that the return-to-work guidance for all healthcare personnel under the updated mitigation strategies will endanger the health and safety of healthcare workers and those they encounter.”
“I urge CDC to reconsider these guidelines and for policymakers to aggressively pursue other strategies to bolster the healthcare system,” ANA President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, said. “We support the administration’s steps to call up more surge teams and use the Defense Product Act to increase access to testing while continuing to use every strategy to increase the number of Americans who are fully vaccinated and boosted.”