CDC Says Masks Are No Longer Required in Most Settings for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. This long-awaited guidance loosens the CDC’s recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals, allowing them to stop wearing a mask in most settings. In addition, the agency says that those who are fully vaccinated can safely resume activities they had participated in pre-pandemic.

CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People

According to the agency, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose vaccine series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. They are also considered fully vaccinated two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The most notable update from the CDC’s new recommendations is that those who are fully vaccinated can resume indoor and outdoor activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. In addition, this new CDC guidance says fully vaccinated people can:

  • Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel, or self-quarantine after travel
  • Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
  • Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
  • Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
  • Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible

For now, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people continue to get tested if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

CDC Guidance for Unvaccinated People

According to the CDC, unvaccinated people should continue to take preventive steps, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. However, according to the agency, it’s safe for those unvaccinated people to walk, run or bike outdoors with members of their household without wearing a mask. In addition, the agency says it is safe to take off the mask when attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends.

Next Steps

As the CDC learns more, it will continue to update its recommendations for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. To learn more, the agency offers resources for choosing safer activities for both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Libertate will continue to keep you updated on changes to the rules and regulations surrounding Covid-19.

5 Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

5 Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

An employee’s mental health includes how they think, feel and act, and includes their emotional and social well-being. While mental health includes mental illness, the two aren’t interchangeable. An employee can go through a period of poor mental health but not necessarily have a clear, diagnosable mental illness. Additionally, an employee’s mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as their workload, stress and work-life balance.

While 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness annually, a recent study by Deloitte revealed that less than half receive treatment. A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit also found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness.

Given its prevalence, you can expect that employees at your organization are experiencing mental health challenges or mental illness. That’s why it’s so important that your organization creates a culture that is supports employees’ mental health. While this may sound complicated, creating a workplace that is supportive of mental health and illness is easier than it seems. Here are five simple ways that your company can support employees and their mental health.

Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Office

The first step to creating a workplace that is supportive of employees’ mental health is promoting awareness and destigmatizing mental health or illness. Provide resources to help employees learn more about mental health or mental illnesses, and give information about how employees who may be struggling can seek out help. When you openly talk about mental health, employees are more likely to feel comfortable about the concept and reach out to managers or co-workers if they’re struggling.

You can also establish a workplace environment that is supportive of mental health by:

  • Encouraging social support among employees, such as an organized support group that meets regularly
  • Setting up an anonymous portal through which employees can reach out to let managers know that they’re struggling with high stress and need help
  • Providing training on problem solving, effective communication and conflict resolution
  • Promoting your employee assistance program (EAP), if you offer one

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Work-life balance, or a lack thereof, can affect an employee’s mental health. To help employees better balance their work and personal lives, employers across the country are embracing workplace flexibility. While this looks different at every company, workplace flexibility can include flextime, telecommuting and unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies. Flexible schedules provide employees with

job satisfaction, better health, increased work-life balance and less stress.

Address Workplace Stress

Nearly 80% of Americans consider their jobs stressful. Chronic workplace stress can contribute to increased employee fatigue, irritability and health problems. Additionally, workplace stress costs U.S. employers approximately $300 billion in lost productivity annually.

While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress altogether for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers.

You can implement various activities to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health and morale—and productivity.

  • Make sure that workloads are appropriate.
  • Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
  • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately—do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors.
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.

Evaluate Your Benefits Offerings

Review the benefits you offer to ensure that they support mental well-being, too. Evaluate your current health plan designs. Do they cover mental health services? Reviewing the offerings that your organization provides is essential to creating a culture that supports employee mental health.

In similar fashion, look to see what voluntary benefits you can offer to support mental well-being. Consider offering simple perks like financial planning assistance (as financial stress often contributes to poor mental health), employee discount programs (where employees can receive gym memberships, stress-reducing massages or acupuncture at a lower cost) and EAPs to support your employees.

Provide Mental Health Training for Managers

One of the most significant problems hindering mental health support at work is the stigma that surrounds mental health. Despite the recent moves in society toward destigmatizing mental health, issues still persist. To ensure that no stigma surrounding mental health exists at your organization, it’s important that you properly train management in recognizing the signs of mental illness, excessive workplace stress, workplace bullying and fatigue. Moreover, managers should be trained to handle potentially difficult conversations with employees surrounding their mental health. Ultimately, they should be prepared to speak openly about mental health rather than avoid the topic. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Workforce webpage to learn more.