The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined new guidance for some critical workers Wednesday that would bring them back into their workplace even if they may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a coronavirus task force briefing that one of the most important things that can be done amid the pandemic is to “keep our critical workforce working” provided that they are asymptomatic.
That group includes first responders and health-care workers, Redfield said, and those who work in food supply matters. The new guidance is aimed at “essential health care workers who have been exposed to the coronavirus.”
He explained that exposure meant being within six feet of a confirmed, or suspected, case.
“We'd like them to increase air exchange in the buildings and increase the frequency of how they clean common surfaces and really begin to get these workers back into the critical workforce, so that we won't have a worker shortage in these critical industries,” Redfield said of employers.
The change comes just days after Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the CDC’s recommendation for people to wear cloth or fabric face masks in public was made in light of studies showing “a significant portion” of people with the virus do not have symptoms.
Under the guidelines presented Wednesday, the workers Redfield described as critical would need to check their temperature prior to heading in to work and also don a facemask “at all times,” according to Redfield, along with following social distancing measures already put in place when they are at the workplace.
“They can, under certain circumstances, they can go back to work if they are asymptomatic... they can go back to work if they do several things,” Redfield said.
The CDC director made clear that people in the group should remain at home if they are sick. The guidelines also call for those workers not to gather “in the break room or other crowded places.”
The CDC also wants employers of those critical workers to “take employee's temperature,” and consider symptoms before they return to work. And if they fall sick at work, the employer needs to “send them home immediately.”