IDSA and SHEA Issue Statement on CDC Updated Guidance for Healthcare Personnel Isolation and Quarantine to Mitigate Staffing Shortages

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) state that they support the updated interim guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and Mitigating Healthcare Personnel Staffing Shortages.

The updated guidance allows healthcare personnel who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 to return to work more rapidly in contingency and crisis situations. Specifically, in contingency situations, health care personnel with mild or asymptomatic infection may return following five days of isolation with improving symptoms. In crisis settings, healthcare personnel may have no restrictions, with prioritization of mildly symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. When available, testing can also support safe return to work, and vaccination of all healthcare personnel remains critical. IDSA and SHEA say they also support the CDC guidance to allow boosted healthcare personnel to continue working without restrictions following exposure to COVID-19.

As the associations state, "These approaches are crucial to ensure we have the necessary healthcare workforce to respond to the growing Omicron surge, and we greatly appreciate CDC updating its guidance so rapidly. While data on Omicron remain limited, data from previous variants can be used to inform our current response and meet immediate pressing needs as we collect more data on Omicron. The best available data indicate that the majority of healthcare personnel are fully vaccinated, and vaccinated individuals generally experience shorter duration of illness and lower viral load and clear COVID-19 infection more rapidly. Well-fitting facemasks should always be worn in healthcare settings and are also highly effective at preventing transmission. This evidence supports the updated CDC interim guidance."

The associations continue, "Leaders of infection prevention and control efforts at healthcare institutions should be empowered to implement this guidance to best meet the needs of their individual settings, including adopting extra precautions for healthcare personnel who predominantly work with immunocompromised patients. Expanding access to antigen testing—particularly for healthcare personnel—will be critical to support our national response. We support the plan announced by President Biden earlier this week to deploy additional healthcare personnel, expand hospital capacity, provide essential medical supplies and increase access to testing and vaccination. As our nation’s healthcare systems face the potentially largest COVID-19 surge yet, we implore all eligible individuals to get vaccinated and boosted and employ layered prevention strategies including masking indoors to help prevent transmission, severe disease, hospitalization and death. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to demonstrate the critical importance of our healthcare workforce, including infectious diseases specialists and infection control experts, and the workforce gaps and shortages that continue to place patients and public health in peril. While our immediate focus must be on our response to the Omicron surge, we strongly urge policymakers to ensure that future efforts to assess lessons learned from this pandemic and strengthen our future preparedness include the necessary long-term investments in this workforce."

Source: IDSA and SHEA