- In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss new recommendations from CDC for masks and quarantining vaccinated persons. Read more below.
- The CDC has declared that individuals who have received the full course of a COVID-19 vaccine do not need to quarantine for 10 – 14 days post-exposure to a COVID-infected individual, as long as the person remains asymptomatic and meets other criteria outlined in today’s vaccine Q&A.”
- Recently, millions of counterfeit N95 were bought by hospitals, medical institutions, and government agencies. Some of these masks have been used. There is currently an investigation underway.
- A recent BBC article breaks down “Coronavirus vaccines: How’s my country and the rest of the world doing?” providing a good perspective of vaccines / 100,000 people per country vaccines have been given, what types of vaccines are preferred by certain countries, and when – if the current pace is continued – the world, overall, will be vaccinated.
- Doctors, that despite the vaccine rollout, are warning that COVID may become endemic within society.
- UK scientists warn that the new B.1.351 COVID-variant strain, first identified in South Africa, would likely sweep the world.
Recommendations for Industry
Layered Masks & COVID-19 Vaccination Update
The CDC has published some updated guidance for mask usage and vaccinated person quarantine. We provide an overview below of CDC’s guidance and TAG’s comment and recommendations based on the guidance.
CDC’s February 10th guidance addresses the current media discussion of wearing of two masks. The guidance did not refute the idea; instead, it provided more specific recommendations on what is needed for protection, based on two key factors:
- Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask.
- Pick a mask with at least two or three layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets from getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick.
TAG agrees with this, continuing to state as well:
- Wear a mask that fits snugly against the face. Proper mask fit is perhaps even more important than dual-masking.
- Wear at least three layers. A mask with more layers helps with both source control of droplets through respiration and also provides the wearer some protection against inhaled droplets and particles.
Wearing one well-fitting mask with at least three layers of fabric represents a good balance between wearability and risk-reduction. Wearing one well-fitting mask with at least three layers of fabric will likely be better received and more protective than having two masks that may be uncomfortable, thus leading to the mask being and require frequent adjustment – creating a potentially risky situation. It is also possible that wearing two masks may make it more difficult to breathe and may cost companies more money to provide for employees.
That said, if you do have employees who come in wearing a thin gaiter or bandana (materials that are thin, porous, and usually only one layer), that would be a good time to recommend/encourage that a disposable mask be donned beneath it.
So we recommend that companies do not mandate double masks — but if people want to wear two masks, they certainly can.
Vaccine Q&A: Quarantine for Vaccinated Persons
Q. Does an employee who has been vaccinated need to quarantine if they are exposed to a person with COVID-19?
A. According to CDC’s new guidance of February 10, with which TAG agrees:
Vaccinated persons with an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:
- Are fully vaccinated:
- ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series
- ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine
- Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series. (This is due to the newness of the vaccines and the studies still being conducted on long-term efficacy.)
- Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure. If the person does have symptoms, follow the TAG recommendations discussed here.
Q. Should someone who has been vaccinated, still be tested for COVID-19 if they are symptomatic or part of regular surveillance testing programs?
A. Yes – according to the same CDC guidance: “At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or SARS-CoV-2 testing.”
TAG agrees with this guidance because vaccines are not 100% effective and therefore testing someone for active infection remains a key strategy to reduce the risk of transmission. It’s also important to stress that the currently authorized mRNA vaccines are extremely effective at preventing moderate to severe illness and should significantly reduce the likelihood that someone would test positive for an active infection after they’ve been vaccinated.
In Case You Missed It
- Recently the WHO arrived in China to understand the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. You can watch the WHO Video briefing (Twitter). It is “extremely unlikely” that the coronavirus came from a lab in China. Instead, Peter Ben Embarek, PhD, who led the WHO team in China, announced that “an intermediary host species is the most likely” cause of the virus.
- Europe’s oldest person, a French nun, has survived COVID and will celebrate her 117th birthday.
- Photo ops with three of Serbia’s officials, including the prime minister, internal affairs, and health minister, helped reassure the Serbian population about the safety of vaccines and refocus the campaign on health. Each official was given a different vaccine. Their vaccination campaign, focused on health, is what has made it possible for Serbia to do well with vaccinations. – https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55931864
- Tokyo's Olympic committee (Olympic Summer Games) has released its COVID-19 playbook with plans to test athletes every 4 days.
- In Mondays’ Recommendations for Industry, we discussed the importance of businesses staying updated on vaccine availability for employees and not let up on any of the basic controls and protective behaviors [Read More].
- The FDA has scheduled its meeting to review Johnson & Johnson’s EUA for COVID-19 vaccine (Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)) for Feb. 26, 2021.