The Omicron variant’s rapid spread has ushered in a new winter wave with new guidance, new confusion and new complications for returning to “normal” as the pandemic enters a third year.
Despite the CDC’s much-memed recent guidance halving recommended quarantine times, employers once intent on bringing workers back into the office in January 2022 are once again pushing back their return-to-office plans. Executives are reckoning with the uncertainty by abandoning arbitrary telework timetables in favor of telling their personnel “We’ll get back to you” once it’s safe to reassess in-person, hybrid and fully-remote work models.
While the push for in-person work is losing steam, COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot mandates are gaining momentum. Major U.S. cities have rolled out vaccine requirements for indoor establishments and some institutions, including universities, are necessitating booster shots.
For K-12 education, the CDC endorsed the test-to-stay approach that allows students who have been exposed to coronavirus to remain in school as long as they continue to test negative. Faced with rapid surges in cases, school districts are grappling with the choice to return to remote learning or push through the outbreaks armed with mask mandates and take-home COVID-19 test kits for teachers and students.
The CDC recently announced new guidelines for healthcare workers who test positive for COVID-19. The guidelines shorten isolation time and allow healthcare personnel to return to work even if they are “mildly symptomatic.” The agency’s subsequent announcement shortening isolation guidelines for people with improving or no symptoms sparked confusion and criticism that economic motivations are eclipsing public health concerns.