Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Wednesday at the White House that essential employees, such as health care and food supply workers, who have been within 6 feet of a confirmed or suspected case of the virus can return to work under certain circumstances if they are not experiencing symptoms.
The new guidelines are being issued as the nation mourns about 15,000 deaths from the virus and grapples with a devastated economy and medical crises from coast to coast. Health experts continue to caution Americans to practice social distancing and to avoid returning to their normal activities. At the same time, though, they are planning for a time when the most serious threat from COVID-19 will be in the country’s rear-view mirror.
President Donald Trump said that while he knows workers are “going stir crazy” at home, he can’t predict when the threat from the virus will wane.
“The numbers are changing and they’re changing rapidly and soon we’ll be over that curve. We’ll be over the top and we’ll be headed in the right direction. I feel strongly about that,” Trump said about the coronavirus, which he called “this evil beast.”
“I can’t tell you in terms of the date,” Trump said, adding cases could go down and then once again “start going up if we’re not careful. “
At some point, he said at his daily briefing, social distancing guidelines will disappear and people will be able to sit together at sports events. “At some point we expect to be back, like it was before,” he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said if the existing guidelines asking people to practice social distancing through the end of April are successful in halting the spread of the virus, more relaxed recommendations could be in order.
He said the White House task force was trying to dovetail public health concerns with practical steps that need to be in place when the 30-day guidelines end at the end of the month so the nation can “safely and carefully march toward some sort of normality.”
If, by fall, things start to return to normal, Americans will still need to wash their hands frequently, sick schoolchildren should be kept home and people with fevers need to refrain from going to work, Fauci said during an online interview Wednesday with the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
People also should never shake hands again, Fauci said, only half-jokingly.
“I mean it sounds crazy, but that’s the way it’s really got to be,” he said. “Until we get to a point where we know the population is protected” with a vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines for essential workers, such as those in the health care and food supply industries. The guidance is focused on when those workers can return to work after having been exposed to the new coronavirus.
- Do take your temperature before work.
- Do wear a face mask at all times.
- Do practice social distancing as work duties permit.
- Don’t stay at work if you become sick
- Don’t share headsets or objects used near face.
- Don’t congregate in the break room or other crowded places.
The CDC also issued guidance for employers in essential industries:
- Do take employees’ temperature and assess for symptoms prior to their starting work.
- Do increase the frequency of cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
- Do increase air exchange in the building.
- Do send sick workers home immediately.
- Do test the use of face masks to ensure they don’t interfere with workflow.
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