Two recent updates in COVID-19 guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) demonstrate the challenges faced by public health officials to appreciate and incorporate the ever-changing science surrounding the global pandemic.

New guidance from the CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask over a medical mask.  The CDC’s guidelines recommend:

  • Choosing a mask with a nose wire;
  • Using a mask fitter or brace to prevent air from leaking;
  • Checking that the mask fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin;
  • Adding layers, such as using a cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric or wearing a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.

The guidance also advises that a KN95 mask should not be combined with any other mask.

The CDC also released new guidelines on February 10 that eliminate quarantine requirements for individuals that have been fully vaccinated.  Critically, this applies once individuals reach two weeks following their final dose of the vaccine.  Specifically, the guidelines provide that vaccinated persons exposed to someone with COVID-19 do not need to quarantine if they:

  • Are fully vaccinated – which is interpreted as more than two weeks after receiving the second dose (or one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
  • Are within three months from their last dose; and
  • Remain asymptomatic following the COVID-19 exposure.

While it remains unclear whether vaccinated individuals can transmit COVID-19, the CDC also states that the “individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission.”  The CDC also states that fully vaccinated individuals still need to look for COVID-19 symptoms for fourteen days after an exposure.

Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers will continue to provide relevant updates on the COVID-19 PHE on the Health Law Pulse.