Roslyn chats today with Chip Cutter, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, whose beat includes workplace culture, management, and leadership issues. His stories often explore how work is changing today. He writes frequently on return-to-office efforts, hybrid work and related challenges in the pandemic. Enjoy!
We’re seeing lots of this happening, and potentially more with Omicron than previous variants. It could be related to some early reports that with Omicron, the viral load tends to be highest in the throat and takes longer to build up in the nose. It could be that people are getting tested too early, since there’s strong evidence that rapid tests catch positive cases a day or two later than more sensitive PCR tests. It is extremely important to reiterate that if you have symptoms, you should stay home until they’re improving, even if you test negative. And likewise for those who are exposed, you should stay home at least 5 days and continue to mask up once you end your quarantine!
CalOSHA has an emergency temporary standard for CA, which may only be in place for a few more months. But it has the possibility of being extended through the end of 2022, or could be replaced by a more permanent standard (like the federal ETS). Considering that 1 out of every 8 Americans is a California resident, it’s important to make sure we’re staying on the right side of CalOSHA. To do that, we recommend making the changes we listed above, and consulting with your legal team about the other important parts of the latest version of regulations that they published last week.
No, there isn’t any differentiation between vaccinated and unvaccinated people in terms of exclusion length if they’re sick or COVID positive. Symptoms take precedent over both vaccination status or exposure. We are, fortunately, seeing much less severe illness and shorter duration in those who are fully protected (generally two doses and boosted). But once someone is sick, the exclusion remains the same (between 5 and 10 days depending on where they are, when they tested positive, and the severity and duration of their symptoms).
One of our most recent Exclusion Chart updates extends to 10 days if a person tests positive "toward the end" of their 5-day exclusion (on Days 3-5). This is based on the latest CDC guidance found here. You can see a full explanation of what the CDC guidance means and why we changed our chart in our recent blog post about the change. In short, the CDC's guidance is very vague, so we operationalized it by defining "towards the end" of the 5 days as Days 3, 4, or 5. A negative test still isn’t required to come to work, but if someone does test positive again toward the end of their 5 day exclusion, they should stay out until Day 10.
The CDC has started using the language “up to date” on your vaccines to mean that you’ve gotten all your recommended doses, including boosters if you’re eligible. That means you’re either boosted, or recently fully vaccinated (2 doses of Pfizer/Moderna within 6 months, or 1 dose of J&J within 2 months). Another way to say this is that if you’re booster eligible, you have the booster. Both OSHA and the CDC now use “fully vaccinated” to mean you completed the primary series of their vaccine, meaning 2 doses of Pfizer/Moderna or a single dose of J&J. The CDC recently updated their website to reflect this, presumably based on feedback about the confusing wording differences between OSHA and the CDC. It’s important to note that the CDC’s isolation and quarantine guidance is based on whether someone is “up to date” on their vaccines. This is confusing language that they appear to have backed into a bit. The key thing to note is that if you’re eligible for a booster, you need to get one in order to be able to avoid quarantine after close contact with someone who has COVID.