July 29, 2021

CDC and CDPH Updates Current COVID Mask Protocols

An increase in COVID-19 cases across the nation has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recommend everyone – including fully vaccinated individuals – once again wear masks in indoor public settings where transmissions are considered “substantial” or “high.” To determine your regions level of community transmission (state/county or metro areas) checkout the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker.

Recent investigations of outbreaks of the Delta variant (the predominate variant in the United States) prompted the CDC’s latest interim public heath recommendations. The CDC is now recommending fully vaccinated individuals in non-healthcare settings protect themselves and others by:

  • Wearing a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an “area of substantial or high transmission.”
    • The CDC suggests that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask, regardless of transmission level, particularly if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease or if someone in their household is unvaccinated.
  • Getting tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until they receive a negative test result.

The California Department of Public Health issued the same guidance as CDC the next day. While CDC and CDPH recommendations are not mandatory, they do carry significant weight. Employers should expect changes to OSHA directives at the state and federal levels in the coming days and weeks. To ensure compliance with updating state and local guidelines, employers should also continue to monitor state and local public health announcements. Communicating with employees is also key.

Reminding employees that federal, state, and local guidance is based on varying transmissions rates may help workers understand the fluid nature of public health guidelines. This may also help to avoid confusion or distraction caused by changes in workplace protocols due to fluctuating state/community transmission rates.