CDC Recommends Universal Use of Face Masks and Shortens Travel Quarantine Recommendation

In the face of mounting COVID-19 infection rates throughout the country, on December 4, 2020 the CDC issued a recommendation for the universal use of facemasks in indoor spaces as well as outdoor spaces when 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.   In addition, the CDC recommends the wearing of facemasks within households when a member of the household has been infected or had a potential exposure to the virus.   The CDC noted that the proper use of facemasks is critical to reducing the spread of the virus “particularly in light of estimates that approximately one half of new infections are transmitted by persons who have no symptoms.”

The CDC also urges that exposures to “nonessential indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings pose a preventable risk to all participants” and urges continued prevention strategies such as take away service, outdoor dining and gatherings, if social distancing can be maintained, and the continued promotion of teleworking and other flexible work arrangements.

The CDC observed that increased testing, diagnosis and isolation should be implemented to interrupt the “silent transmission” of the virus from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic persons, as well as case investigation and contract tracing to identify, quarantine and test close contacts.

In anticipation of the holiday rush, the CDC recommends the postponement of travel; for those who do travel, the agency recommends testing 1 to 3 days before departure and 3 to 5 days upon arrival at the destination.   Moreover, the CDC recommends quarantine for both international and domestic travel for seven (7) days following travel, if tested, even if the test results are negative. If testing is not done, the CDC’s prior recommendation of ten (10) days of quarantine would apply.

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