(Newsletter) Employers: Understanding CDC Updates

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Making sense of the new CDC guidance on isolation and quarantine


On December 27, 2021 the CDC updated guidance on isolation and quarantine for the general public: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html

Please note this guidance is intended for the general public and not tailored to specific workplaces. Your workplace may choose to enact more conservative measures. Local or state regulations may supersede CDC guidance. Note that the CDC Guidance for Ships has not yet been updated to reflect these new recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/maritime/recommendations-for-ships.html


Updates to new CDC guidance on isolation and quarantine


Recommendations for positive cases:

If an individual is positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, the CDC is offering a shortened isolation period. The new recommendations are to isolate for 5 days, then wear a mask for an additional 5 days. The person must be asymptomatic or symptoms must be resolving.

In order to elect to use a shortened isolation period, a workplace should assess if an individual can continue masking at all times for the last 5 days. This means no sharing bunks, no eating with others, no removing mask to eat or drink around others. It is likely most at-sea worksites would have difficulty accommodating this and should continue with a 10-day isolation period. An office-based worksite or small harbor vessel may be able to accommodate these restrictions.


Recommendations for exposed individuals:

This guidance is much more complicated as it relies on an individual’s vaccination status. It also requires a person to mask for a period of time which may not be possible in some workplaces. Also note that this is the first time the CDC has made a distinction between fully vaccinated people and fully vaccinated plus boosted people. It is likely that the definition of fully vaccinated will change soon to include boosters.

If a person is fully vaccinated and boosted or is recently vaccinated with a primary series (within 6 months for an mRNA vaccine, 2 months for a J&J vaccine), then an exposed person in a low-risk environment can wear a mask around others for 10 days, test on day 5, and stay home if symptoms develop.

Again, this option is only available if the individual can mask at all times when around others for 10 days. It is unlikely this can be accommodated at sea.

If a person is unvaccinated, or not recently vaccinated, the new CDC guidance offers a shortened quarantine period of 5 days quarantine followed by 5 days mask wearing, testing on day 5 and quarantine if symptoms develop.

These modified quarantines are not recommended in high-risk environments such as: high-density workplaces, congregate living settings, or remote worksites in medically austere areas. These new recommendations could be considered for low-risk, land based or near-shore, low-density settings.

We recognize this new information can be confusing and difficult to interpret. Omicron is highly transmissible and dangerous for unvaccinated and under-vaccinated individuals. We continue to stress vaccinations, boosters, masking during high-risk times, and frequent testing.


A good summary around the science behind the duration of isolation and current state of Omicron can be found here: https://yourlocalepidemiologist.substack.com/p/state-of-affairs-dec-28?fbclid=IwAR1N2Gtq4LAagYuD1NECgAfGjBXO7eA-cPafClxE5xTjl0qnZYishhYfPc4

Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss worksite specific questions, arrange a testing program, or schedule a vaccine clinic in the Puget Sound area.


Vaccination Options


Our Vaccination team has gone through a lot of changes and we want you to be as informed as possible on our procedures. Please review the below and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

For vaccination requests, we do not need a manifest sent ahead of time (still needed for testing requests). Please note that all vaccinations are free.


Designated Locations

We offer vaccines at our Pier 90 location every Tuesday from 830am-1215pm. This is a walk-in clinic (no appts necessary) and best for small crew numbers.

We offer vaccines at our community site in Puyallup on Wed-Sat 10am-645pm. This is also a walk-in clinic.

We no longer have vaccinations in Dutch Harbor, AK. Please contact the local clinic there for any vaccines.


We can book onsite mobile clinics for larger crew counts, no minimum number needed. These need to be scheduled 2 weeks in advance. We will need an indoor or outdoor space to hold a clinic. Please email Taylor for any questions and email Taylor and [email protected] for scheduling.


COVID-19 Business Network


Now that these anticipated requirements have been announced, Discovery Health MD is here to help. We offer consulting and recommendations to help businesses like yours stay ahead of the curve, while our platform incorporates vaccine record storage, and can intake test records regardless of technology or testing location so that you can have all your records in one place.

To help Seattle-based employers comply with OSHA guidelines while revitalizing the economy, Discovery Health MD has proposed the creation of a system of COVID-19 testing clusters throughout Seattle’s downtown and Bellevue.

To learn about our services and find a solution that’s right for you, click below:

Learn More about DHMD’s COVID-19 Business Network…


About the Author:

Dr. Ann Jarris is a Maritime and Remote Medicine Specialist based out of Seattle, WA. She has practiced as a physician for over 15 years in urban and remote settings. Her experience is in occupational, emergency, wilderness and virtual medicine. Dr. Jarris leads innovation and research efforts at Discovery Health MD as Co-Founder and CEO.

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