healthcare worker talking with older man

Editor’s note: The story has been updated with comments from Julie Sacks, president and chief operating officer of the Home Centered Care Institute.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday released guidance regarding mask wearing. social distancing and other protocols for vaccinated people in non-healthcare settings

Fully vaccinated people can do the following, according to the new recommendations:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic

The guidance “represents a first step toward returning to everyday activities in our communities,” the CDC said. “There are some activities that fully vaccinated people can begin to resume now in the privacy of their own homes,” said Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., director of the CDC.

Industry leaders welcomed the guidance. “The easing of these restrictions is a welcome change and one that has the potential to improve quality of life for all involved,” said Julie Sacks, president and chief operating officer of the Home Centered Care Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on advancing home-based primary care (HBPC) to ensure that chronically ill, medically complex and homebound patients have access to high-quality care in their home. 

She noted that many patients who receive home-based primary care struggled with social isolation, even prior to the pandemic. “The restrictions we’ve had to live with this past year have just added to that social isolation, leaving many who already interacted with very few family members or friends even more susceptible to a decline in both their physical and mental health,” she told McKnight’s Home Care Daily.

Vicki Hoak, executive director at the Home Care Association of America, suggested that the recommendations will encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“Our association has been in a full-blown campaign to encourage and educate our frontline workers about the COVID-19 vaccine for the last few months,” she told McKnight’s Home Care Daily.  “Many were hesitant to get the vaccine so we have provided an array of resources to discuss the benefits. There has also been difficulty in getting home care workers access to the vaccine but we’re hopeful with the addition of another vaccine that access will open up.  Our frontline workers are caring for the most vulnerable population to this disease, older Americans, so it’s important for not only them to be vaccinated but also the clients they are caring for.”

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice said it is disseminating the newly released guidance to members. “NAHC supports the issuance of the recommendations and we have added them to our COVID resources page and our COVID vaccine resources page,” a spokesman told McKnight’s Home Care Daily on Monday. “We also published a story on it in today’s NAHC Report and are urging all our members to read the recommendations and share them with staff as we have with our staff at our Washington headquarters.”

Missing from the long-awaited guidance are guidelines for home care workers and their clients. Further direction is anticipated.