On November 30, 2022, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) updated its Advisory on Return-to-Work Protocols for Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to Sars-CoV-2. This new guidance supersedes previous New York guidance to be consistent with recommendations published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For recommendations on healthcare providers returning to work following infection with SARS-CoV-2 or exposure to SARS-CoV-2, New York employers should review the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2. With the adoption of the CDC’s guidance, the most significant change for New York healthcare employers is that there is no longer a distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated healthcare workers when it comes to returning to work following exposure to COVID-19. Work restrictions are not necessary for most asymptomatic healthcare providers following exposure, regardless of vaccination status. Healthcare employers should review the CDC’s guidance in full for recommendations about testing and other protocols. 

As a reminder, when it comes to returning to work following infection, there are important distinctions depending on the severity of the healthcare provider’s symptoms and whether the healthcare provider is immunocompromised. NYSDOH continues to align with the CDC’s return to work recommendations for healthcare providers which recommends an isolation period of 10 days after symptoms first appeared or after at least 7 days with a negative viral test following the testing protocol described by the CDC if a conventional strategy is used. Healthcare employers should review the additional recommendations included in the CDC guidance including detailed guidance for healthcare providers who have more severe symptoms or are immunocompromised.

The NYSDOH permits healthcare providers who are experiencing or anticipating staffing shortages due to COVID-19 to utilize contingency and crisis strategies in the CDC’s Strategies to Mitigate Healthcare Personnel Staffing Shortages which may allow healthcare providers to return to work sooner than under the conventional guidance. The NYSDOH advises that transition from conventional to contingency to crisis strategies should be based on ability to provide essential services, as determined by the facility. Healthcare providers, with some exceptions, are directed to notify the NYSDOH if “crisis” strategies are required. 

New York healthcare facilities may want to consider reviewing their policies and practices in light of this updated guidance. If you have questions about your obligations, please reach out to Jackson Lewis attorneys.