New York issues new isolation guidance for frontline workers

ALBANY — New York will cut down its 10-day COVID-19 isolation guidance for fully vaccinated people in the “critical workforce” – nursing homes, restaurants, grocery stores – permitting them to go back to work in five days if they’re asymptomatic or have resolved their symptoms. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday the state will issue the new return-to-work guidance allowing fully inoculated individuals who have tested positive for the virus to go back to work five days later so long as they’re asymptomatic, have had no fever for 72 hours and aren’t on medication for the disease.

“We want to make sure that our critical workforce we’ve relied on from the beginning – and my heart goes out to them, we’re with filled with gratitude – that our workers can get back [to work],” said Hochul during a remote briefing from Albany.

“That includes our health care, elder care, home health care, sanitation, grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants – you know who you are…you’re the ones that got us through the first many months of anxiety.”

“We need you again, we need you to be able to go to work,” she added, noting it’s a way to stave off workforce shortages amid a rapid spike in positive cases as the highly contagious Omicron variant rages.

Employees in the qualifying jobs must wear a mask when they return to work.

“We need you to be able to go to work,” Hochul said.
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Hochul said the state is taking a cue from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recently revised its 10-day isolation rule for those working in health care facilities.

“We’re always trying to adapt to changing data as we receive it and process it. So, this is a new announcement from the CDC,” she said, although the state’s new rules go further than the federal guidance.

The CDC on Thursday announced new recommendations that reduced isolation time for health care workers from 10 to seven days, but also noted the “isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.”