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Layered Masks & COVID-19 Vaccination Update
Acheson Group February 12, 2021 0 Comments
Layered Masks & COVID-19 Vaccination Update

Key Points:

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.

Masks.

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.

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