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Zero Hour Health + Zedic Newsletter - Friday, May 14th

What does the new CDC guidance mean for employers?

ZHH Updates

Updated Exclusion Chart

We have an updated COVID exclusion chart to help clarify exclusions for those fully vaccinated and those who aren’t yet. Check it out here.

New CDC Guidance

  • The CDC’s new guidance says fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear a mask or social distance in most cases. Our latest blog post breaks down what it means for employers. Read it here. 
  • Following the news, CT announced that fully vaccinated people won’t need to wear masks indoors beginning May 19, adding to a previously scheduled lifting of pandemic restrictions, including the reopening of bars. (The Darien Times)
  • Ohio, too, will be lifting most of its COVID health orders in the coming weeks, including mask mandates. (WKSU

  • But in a recent survey of hundreds of epidemiologists, nearly 80% expected to wear masks indoors in public for at least a year, and many were surprised by the new guidelines.  (NY Times)


Today's Recap

  • We know that transportation to vaccination sites is one of the biggest barriers to getting your staff fully vaccinated. Now, Lyft and Uber will be offering free rides to vaccination sites across the country, starting May 24. (KABC)
  • The CDC is dropping their recommendation not to get another vaccine two weeks before or after getting a COVID shot. This means that people can now get COVID shots at the same time as other shots, which could be exciting for increasing vaccination rates. (ACIP)
  • A major U.K. trial assessing the benefits of mixing COVID vaccines found that people receiving one dose of Pfizer and one of Astra-Zeneca were more likely to develop mild to moderate symptoms than those who got two doses of the same brand. Because there isn’t enough data out there yet, we’re still recommending you don’t mix and match doses. (CNBC)
  • A new CDC report finds that vaccination rates for non-COVID-related vaccines (think flu, hep A, tetanus, etc.) are still low among American adults. We might end up seeing higher rates of these illnesses in the next few years as a result.  (CDC)
  • For some Americans it isn't vaccine hesitancy that’s kept them from getting their COVID shot, it's barriers to access created by socioeconomic disparities. And vaccination rates are lower where there are more older adults without internet or computer access, who live in poverty, or who live by themselves. (New York Times, CDC)
  • In Washington state, healthcare workers are seeing a fourth wave of hospitalizations due to COVID. In response, the governor has issued a statewide pause on the loosening of any restrictions currently in place. (NPR)
  • Only 25% of the first 100 patients treated by the Mayo Clinic’s Long Haul COVID treatment program initially needed hospitalization. And more of the long haulers are women. (Star Tribune
  • Santa Clara county has "Student Vaccination nights," which include music, raffles, free San Francisco 49ers swag and tours of the team's locker room. In Maine, a program offers LL Bean gift cards or Portland Sea Dogs tickets as a reward for getting vaccinated before the summer season begins. And Ohio is using COVID relief funds for a $1 million lottery to encourage vaccination! (KPIX, Q106.5, New York Times)
  • In an ironic twist, some anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are considering wearing masks and social distancing to protect themselves from those who are fully vaccinated. (Vice)
  • Despite some social media claims that vaccines are to blame for India’s surge in COVID cases, this is totally false. (USA Today)
  • A New Jersey school closed its doors after 60% of teachers who attended a catered staff lunch reported symptoms of foodborne illness. Students at the school have returned to remote learning. (NJ.com)


Best Questions


What are other clients doing about this new guidance? Are they allowing guests and employees to be maskless?

Twenty states don’t currently have mask mandates. Some clients are updating signage to say mask usage is encouraged, rather than required. Some are still requiring guest masks, but as states continue to roll back mask mandates, there’s been a drop off in enforcement of masking for guests. Few are changing employee mask requirements until states and OSHA weigh in. Most are just waiting and watching right now, though a few are moving forward with local decisions allowing fully vaccinated people (with proof of vaccination) to start removing their masks if they aren’t working in public-facing roles. If you haven’t yet, read our latest blog post for more on what the new CDC regulations mean for employers. 


Does the new CDC guidance mean we can ditch capacity limits and social distancing in our workplace?

Not yet. While fully vaccinated people can go maskless and don’t need to social distance according to the latest CDC guidance, there are a lot of other factors at play. First, state and local regulations come first, so while the CDC guidance says one thing, your county health department, for instance, might still have capacity rules that you need to adhere to. And then there’s the fact that most Americans aren’t fully vaccinated yet, so while the few fully vaccinated people might be able to remove their masks and worry less about social distancing, the rest of your staff are likely still vulnerable to catching and spreading the virus, so it will be a while until your full staff is vaccinated and ready to mingle.

Will the new OSHA guidance align with CDC recommendations?

We don't know yet, but we do know that new OSHA guidelines are expected no later than the end of May and they will likely take the newest CDC guidance into consideration.

According to Ogletree Deakins: “Despite this new guidance, some employers may prefer to move slowly toward any changes in the workplace. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to issue a long-awaited COVID-19 emergency standard by the end of May 2021, and it is unclear to what extent the new OSHA standard may address safety distinctions with fully-vaccinated employees. Current OSHA guidance simply states that “[w]orkers who are vaccinated must continue to follow protective measures, such as wearing a face covering and remaining physically distant, because at this time, there is not evidence that COVID-19 vaccines prevent transmission of the virus from person-to-person.” While it seems likely OSHA’s position will be refined based on the latest CDC guidance, some employers may wish to wait for the OSHA standard before making significant changes to their COVID-19 mitigation protocols.”


Has anyone been more successful than others with employee vaccinations?

Yes. Helping employees get to vaccination sites that don’t require appointments seems to be key to boosting employee vaccination rates. One client has seen measurable progress by sending out daily alerts to locations letting them know about nearby sites that don’t require appointments, and then allowing employees to go during the shift, leave early, come in late, or take a buddy or translator. We’re optimistic that the added bonus of not having to wear a mask will be a game changer for encouraging vaccination, too. There’s a lower vaccination rate in the Southeast and Southwest - where it’s hot already and even hotter when working in a mask - so this change may be just what people need to go get vaccinated.

Is it possible that our problem isn’t that employees aren’t vaccinated, but that they’re not telling us they’re vaccinated?

Unfortunately, we’re seeing low vaccination rates among 18-49 year olds. But both are likely happening. Your system for vaccine verification needs to be quick, easy and reliable. If it’s not, this is the time to fix it. Any minor speed bump can easily become a roadblock for your employees - we want to remove barriers and not add them.


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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.