As the Delta variant saturates the country with new cases of COVID-19, the CDC continues to reinforce the use of masks while indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission and recommends testing for the virus if you have symptoms, regardless of your vaccination status. The FDA has just recently allowed for the additional dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to people with moderately to severe compromised immune systems after the initial 2-dose series (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html). With the spread of the virus, we caution all of our members to proceed with caution during these last few weeks of summer, limit indoor exposures, protect the staff and children attending your summer camp programs, and continue to seek vaccinations for your staff.
Throughout the past year and a half, the Comp Alliance has updated our members on the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, including New York State regulations, Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, and other federal and state sources of information on the pandemic and restrictions placed upon employers and employees for compliance and to maintain overall safety procedures for your operations. NYS municipalities remained diligent in compliance with safeguarding staff throughout the pandemic and their efforts were reflected in the limited outbreaks from our members throughout the virus. With the introduction of the vaccines earlier this year, the state has lifted many of the previous restrictions, and operations have improved to reduce practices such as social distancing and mask wearing.
However, as many of us have observed during the past few days, the Delta variety of the coronavirus has displayed itself to be resilient against the vaccine and spreading throughout the state. To maximize protection from this new strain of the virus, the CDC has recently requested that people wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission. To view their site where they identify these transmission areas, visit https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view
At this time, New York State has not required these latest CDC restrictions for its residents, although they usually follow their guidance a week or two after the CDC issuance, so it is anticipated that these transmission developments will be repeated in some fashion by the state soon. It remains, as it has since the beginning of the pandemic, that non-vaccinated people continue to wear a mask when in public, and this should be strictly enforced by your municipality. People are considered fully vaccinated when:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
Additionally, even those who have been fully-vaccinated are asked that if they have been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should wear a mask indoors in public for 14-days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result in positive. One reported benefit of the vaccine is that if you do contract the virus, the symptoms are much less severe and the hospitalization potential from the virus is greatly reduced.
For now, according to the CDC, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:
- You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.
- Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is still required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and while indoors at U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance (like on open deck areas of a ferry or the uncovered top deck of a bus).
- Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested 3 days before travel by air into the United States (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
- You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others. If your test is positive, isolate at home for 10 days.
- People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.
What We Know
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, including severe illness and death.
- COVID-19 vaccines are effective against severe disease and death from variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 currently circulating in the United States, including the Delta variant.
- Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. When these infections occur among vaccinated people, they tend to be mild.
- If you are fully vaccinated and become infected with the Delta variant, you can spread the virus to others.
- People with weakened immune systems, including people who take immunosuppressive medications, may not be protected even if fully vaccinated.
As the knowledge of medical experts increases concerning the virus variants and vaccines, it remains important for employers and employees to understand their responsibilities for the safety of themselves and their co-workers. Remain diligent against this virus, continue to practice good hygiene practices, wear a mask if you are not fully vaccinated, wear a mask if you are indoors in public within the parts of the state identified as substantial or high transmission, continue good personal hygiene, clean workspaces routinely, and get tested if you have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive person. The Comp Alliance will continue to keep our members updated on the process of this challenging pandemic situation.