Business owners react to CDC’s new guidance for asymptomatic COVID positive people

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul is thanking the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for updating its guidance for COVID-19 isolations. The CDC now recommends that isolation time drop from 10 days down to just five for all Americans.

New York has already shortened its protocols, but only for workers considered "critical" who are vaccinated, and not sick. News10NBC talked to a business that’s welcoming both sets of guidance.

The CDC’s recommendation would allow anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 but has remained asymptomatic during those five days to return back to work even quicker than before.

Rooney’s restaurant owner, Joe Squalli, has been dealing with a staffing shortage for as long as the pandemic has been around. Recently one of his employees tested positive for the virus and had to self-quarantine for 10 days. This forced others to cover for him.

"I’m already doing two to three duties so I had to do his job on top of that too. So there’s more pressure on me when somebody is not here," Squalli said.

Last week, the CDC recommended 10 days of at-home quarantine, before dropping it down to seven days for healthcare workers returning back to work. Monday, Hochul dropped it down to just five days for asymptomatic, vaccinated "critical" workers as long as they wear a well-fitting mask. The CDC then followed the state’s lead, but for all Americans, and you don’t need to be vaccinated for this recommendation.

"Ten days is a challenge to have somebody to make up for the, for not having enough staff, and 5 days that’s manageable," Squalli said.

Kim Harding, a partner of the Labor Employment Group at Nixon Peabody, said companies can still use their discretion when it comes to the guidance.

"If employers are concerned about potential continued exposure in the workplace, or the infectiousness of particular employees they can certainly require a negative test, or require extended quarantines, or isolations prior to return to the workforce," Harding said.

Late Monday, Hochul released a statement on the CDC’s recommendation saying:

"As we battle this winter surge, we will keep following the data and science-based public health policies to protect New Yorkers.

"That’s why on Friday I announced guidance to shorten the isolation window for our critical workforce from 10 to 5 days, and I want to thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for now updating its guidance to shorten the recommended time for isolation from 10 to 5 days for everyone who is asymptomatic, as long as they wear a well-fitting mask.

"This is a critical step to support our small businesses, critical industries, and essential services as we get through this new variant."

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also released a statement saying in part, "CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus, and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives."

Both New York State and the CDC guidance follows medical experts who now say transmission of the variant usually occurs one or two days before the symptoms begin and lasts two to three days after.