CDC updates guidance for mask-wearing, infection control for oral care providers

The CDC updated its infection and control prevention measures for oral healthcare providers Feb. 8, as well as eased indoor mask guidance for the general public Feb. 25.

Eight things to know:

Updated infection and control measures include:

1. Quarantine is recommended for patients who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 if they're not up to date with all recommended vaccine doses.

2. Quarantine is not needed for asymptomatic patients who are up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses or who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days; potential exceptions are described in the guidance. Some patients should still be tested.

3. A test-based strategy and consultation with infectious disease experts is now recommended for determining the duration of quarantine for COVID-19 patients who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

4. Additional examples when universal respirator use could be considered.

New community masking guidelines

5. The CDC is now relying on how COVID-19 is affecting a community's healthcare system — rather than transmission rates alone — as a guide for mask recommendations.

6. Under the new framework, an area falls in one of three COVID-19 community levels, with recommended prevention measures varying by level. About half of U.S. counties, representing nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population, were in the low or medium COVID-19 community category as of Feb. 25, CDC officials said.

7. The agency also updated guidance for schools, recommending universal mask-wearing only in schools in communities at the high level.

8. CDC officials emphasized that people who remain at higher risk for COVID-19, such as people with immunocompromising conditions, may choose to take extra precautions, regardless of their community's COVID-19 level.

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