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New York announces updated return-to-work guidance for fully vaccinated 'critical workforce'

Virus Outbreak New York
Posted at 4:03 PM, Dec 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-24 18:26:46-05

NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Governor Kathy Hochul provided a COVID-19 update Friday and said "spread holiday cheer, not COVID" this holiday season.

"Don't be that person, don't be the one that everybody talks about at your next get together and says 'oh that was the one who was sniffling or not feeling well and feeling a little feverish and they still showed up because they wanted to' that my friends is selfish," said Hochul.

The governor said the state knew the COVID numbers would continue to climb and it's not a surprise, but continued to stress the state is not in the same situation it was in March 2020 or even last winter. She cited the availability of testing, vaccines and boosters and the winter surge plan the state has implemented.

Statewide, 4,744 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 on December 23. According to Hochul, this time last year there were around 7,000 hospitalized.

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Hochul also said the state reached a COVID-19 vaccine milestone Thursday as 95% of New Yorkers 18 and older have now received at least one dose of the vaccine.

In addition, Hochul announced the state has release updated guidance for when the "critical workforce" can return to work after testing positive for COVID-19 based on new CDC guidance. She listed health care, elder care, sanitation, restaurant, transportation, grocery store and pharmacy workers as part of the "critical workforce." You can find the full guidance here.

The Department of Health’s new guidance allows fully vaccinated healthcare workers and other fully vaccinated members of the critical workforce who test positive for COVID-19 to return to work after five days if they meet certain criteria and if there is a critical staffing shortage. They must be asymptomatic or, if they had mild symptoms, they must:

  • Not have a fever for at least 72 hours without fever-reducing medication
  • Have resolution of symptoms or, if still with residual symptoms, then all are improving
  • Not have rhinorrhea (runny nose)
  • Have no more than minimal, non-productive cough (i.e., not disruptive to work and does not stop the person from wearing their mask continuously, not coughing up phlegm)

Testing is not required.
- NYSDOH guidance

The governor also said the CDC has confirmed the test-to-stay program in schools works and highly recommended counties and school districts work to implement it. She said there will be tests available for students when they return to school after holiday break.

Also announced Friday was that starting December 27, visitors to correctional facilities must show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of the visit. At-home COVID-19 tests will be available to facilities in the next week and to visitors January 3.

You can watch the full update below.