On July 27, 2021, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new recommendations for vaccinated people in the continuing effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The CDC updated recommendations do not change related to the guidance for unvaccinated individuals, who are encouraged to follow the prevention measures that have been previously recommended: CDC Recommended Prevention Measures for Unvaccinated People. Instead, the CDC recommendations are directed at fully-vaccinated people, who are those people that have received all recommended doses of their COVID-19 vaccine and two weeks have passed since the last dose was received.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible than the original virus, and while fully-vaccinated people are not showing symptoms of having contracted the mutated virus, they can carry a high viral load and be unknowingly spreading the disease to those who are unprotected. As a result, face coverings are being recommended.
The CDC provides an interactive, updated map that will show the level of transmission in your county. You can find that map here: COVID-19 Transmission Map County View
The CDC made the following recommendations that would apply to a printing operation and its employees:
- Fully-vaccinated people are recommended to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. See the CDC transmission map to determine levels in your area.
- Fully-vaccinated people who have a known or suspected exposure to a person with a COVID-19 confirmed case are recommended to be tested for the virus 3-5 days after exposure and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. If receiving a positive test result, the person should follow isolation protocols.
- Fully vaccinated people should be tested if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- If tested positive for COVID-19, fully-vaccinated people should follow the isolation protocol.
- Wearing a mask is recommended for fully-vaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19 or have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease, or not fully vaccinated.
- Increased risk for severe disease includes older adults and those who have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, overweight or obesity, and heart conditions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) did not contemporaneously release new guidance. The current OSHA guidance has an appendix "Measures Appropriate for Higher-Risk Workplaces with Mixed-Vaccination Status Workers" that provides best practices for COVID-19.
If your company is in an area with a high transmission rate of COVID-19, consider implementing masking protocols again until the transmission rates in your area subside. Following the CDC recommendations and state and local health department guidelines will provide the greatest protection for your employees and help the company defend any regulatory or private actions that could arise from a COVID-19 outbreak in your facility.