On July 27, 2021, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued updated Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People due to new evidence on the Delta variant currently circulating in the United States. The updated recommendations include the following:
- A recommendation for fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
- Added information that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
- A recommendation for fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
- A recommendation for universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
The key takeaway from these updates is that they are recommendations, and they do not have the weight of law. Mask mandates, if issued, will come from local/county governments based on transmission rates. For New York employers, the state is not issuing a mask mandate; however, in areas of high or substantial transmission county health commissioners have the authority to do so. Employers in other states should ensure that they are following the guidance of their state and/or local health officials.
Employers will want to consider whether they would like to make any changes to their masking policy in light of the CDC’s recommendations.