Fauci Applauds New York Quarantine Reduction for Healthcare Workers

Fauci Applauds New York Quarantine Reduction for Healthcare Workers Fauci Applauds New York Quarantine Reduction for Healthcare Workers National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci wears a lab-themed mask while talking to reporters on April 13, 2021, at the White House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Monday, 27 December 2021 06:21 PM

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that New York's decision to scale back quarantine and isolation time for healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19 from seven to five days, is something the federal health agencies may implement to keep those essential workers on the job.

''You need the healthcare workers. And when you have them out for the full 10 days, and you do that over a wide swath of people, you can have a situation where you really do not have enough healthcare workers,'' Fauci said on NPR's ''Morning Edition.'' ''I think that's something that we're going to be considering'' beyond New York.

On Dec. 24, the New York Department of Health shortened the time healthcare workers needed to isolate or quarantine to five days before returning to work in areas affected by staffing shortages.

''The department expects a large number of mild or asymptomatic cases in fully vaccinated persons,'' the agency said in the release announcing the change on Friday. ''Imposing a full 10 days of isolation in these circumstances has the potential to substantially impact critical services including healthcare, a sector already experiencing severe staffing shortages.''

New York made the move after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decreased its suggested isolation period from 10 to seven days.

According to the federal agency, ''healthcare workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic can return to work after 7 days with a negative test, and that isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages.''

In a televised interview Monday on MSNBC's ''Morning Joe,'' Fauci said that it is important that the workers return to their jobs to keep things running ''smoothly'' as the highly contagious omicron variant surges through the nation.

''If they have an essential job, we want to get them back on that job before the 10-day period,'' Fauci said. ''That is being discussed very seriously now by the CDC.''

Fauci said that while the omicron variant seems less severe, it is more contagious and would lead to more cases, which could still strain medical resources, requiring larger staffs to deal with the problem.

''If you have more people getting infected, you quantitatively have more people going to the hospital,'' he said. ''That is what we are worried about, particularly among the unvaccinated.''

The new guidance from New York applies to healthcare workers that are fully vaccinated at least two weeks before the onset of symptoms, are providing essential services, have not had a fever in 72 hours without using fever-reducing medicine, and are demonstrating only minor coughing that still allows them to wear a mask.