We are so ready to put COVID-19 behind us, but unfortunately, the delta variant is keeping us on our toes. So, for the time being, where do we stand, and what do we do now?
Amended CDC Guidance for the Fully Vaccinated
Last week, the CDC updated its guidelines to recommend (along with its prior guidelines that unvaccinated individuals should continue masking) that fully vaccinated individuals:
- Should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission
- Might opt to mask in public indoor settings regardless of the transmission level if they or someone else in their household are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease
- Who have a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 should be tested three to five days after the exposure, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until receiving a negative test result
School Settings and Travel
The CDC is recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors in a school setting, regardless of vaccination status. As for travel, the CDC maintains that domestic travel is low risk for fully vaccinated individuals, although masking on public transportation in the United States remains required.
What Employers Are Doing
In response to the spiking case numbers and the fluctuating guidelines, many employers are revisiting their COVID-19 protocols. Facebook, Google, Ford, Walmart, and Walt Disney Company have recently mandated vaccines for certain employees. Additionally, the White House announced Thursday that it would require vaccines for federal employees. Other employers whose staff has not yet returned to the office are revisiting their plans to do so.
In the coming weeks, keep an eye on the fluctuating recommendations and especially the mandates in any locations where you have employees. If you are (re)considering a vaccination mandate, remember that you have to make exceptions for anyone who cannot receive it due to a medical issue or sincerely held religious belief; we blogged on this issue earlier here. Additionally, while you may ask about vaccination status, you want to be careful in how you ask and what you do with that information. If you’re uncertain about your COVID-19 protocol as it pertains to employment liability, give your lawyer a call.