CDC says Drop your Mask to the vaccinated. What will companies do?

May 14, 2021

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CDC Says Drop Your Masks to the Vaccinated | What will Corporate America Do? | Kogniz
Written By
Anne M. Acosta

The CDC’s announcement that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks outside or inside has sent shockwaves through the nation.  While more and more people are getting vaccinated and vaccinations for children 12 through 15 just became available this week, the new CDC announcement has still stirred up mixed emotions from joy to outrage to fear among business leaders and the public.   With the backdrop of double variants of COVID being found in California and children 11 and under still not being eligible for a vaccine, what are US-based companies and other organizations to do with the CDC announcement?

This Bloomberg article reminds us that “the CDC’s guidelines are suggestions for behavior, but they don’t have the force of law. Ground-level decisions on when and where masks must be worn will now rest with states, local governments and businesses, who will have to decide whether to maintain or relax their masking mandates, and what mix of carrots and sticks they will use to compel compliance.”

 

Waiting for OSHA...

Most businesses do plan to track employee vaccinations, which can work in an office environment, but a wait-and-see approach is likely until they hear an update from OSHA and health departments at the federal, state and local levels.   While the CDC’s announcement sounds promising for social visits between vaccinated friends, most businesses won’t have systems in play to track whether or not someone has been vaccinated. Some companies plan to mandate vaccines for employees, and they’ll need a way to manage that information, upload proof of vaccination and remind employees to get vaccinated before they return to the office.

 

Here’s how some companies are reacting to the CDC news: 

  • Automakers Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV, the former Fiat Chrysler, all said they’re keeping mask policies in place in their facilities for now. “We will review the latest guidance from the CDC and await guidance from OSHA, which has jurisdiction over workplaces,” GM said in a statement Thursday.
  • The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration hasn’t substantially updated its guidance on masks since Jan. 29 and didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday.
  • California utility giant PG&E Corp. said it’s waiting for an update from the state, which could come next week, before making any changes to its policies.

    “While we are encouraged by the developments of the updated guidance CDC issued, our Covid-19 safety workforce policies and rules on face coverings are dictated by Cal/OSHA regulations,” spokeswoman Angela Lombardi said. “We are closely tracking a proposed update to Cal/OSHA regulations, which will be up for hearing on May 20.”

According to OSHA's website as of May 19, 2021, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance relating to recommended precautions for people who are fully vaccinated, which is applicable to activities outside of healthcare and a few other environments. OSHA is reviewing the recent CDC guidance and will update our materials on this website accordingly. Until those updates are complete, please refer to the CDC guidance for information on measures appropriate to protect fully vaccinated workers."

Also in play is that employers will still need to follow to state and local mask mandates. Some states, like California, Virginia, Michigan, and Oregon, have workplace safety regulations related to COVID-19 that still specifically require employees to wear face masks in the workplace regardless of vaccination status.  
 

How Kogniz can help

 

While companies decide which path to forge ahead, they’ll need to consider updated OSHA & DOH rules and guidelines, company culture, local culture and vaccination rates and other factors. 

Here at Kogniz, we can help companies navigate these chaotic and changing waters with flexible, configurable solutions that help them implement and adapt to the changing tides of this pandemic and workplace safety of the future.  

Since 2016, Kogniz has focused on how computer vision and artificial intelligence can help bring workplace safety into the future.  When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world stage, we applied our computer vision and AI capabilities to help companies establish PPE identification (e.g., masks, hard hats, gloves), touchless body temperature checks, contact tracing and occupancy management to keep their employees and visitors safe.   We also now help Fortune 1000 companies looking to manage vaccine tracking in the workplace.   

At our core, Kogniz combines computer vision inputs with AI to help companies create good outcomes.   For example, we leverage computer vision for cutting-edge palm print and peri-ocular identification that can tie into HR, timesheet management and access control platforms to make the technology that companies already use smarter and to save time and money from time spent identifying who can and cannot enter workplaces.   As companies navigate mask wearing, vaccines and other workplace safety requirements, Kogniz is ready to help its clients figure out how to future-proof workplace safety during this pandemic and beyond.  

 

Originally posted on May 14, 2021 and revised on May 19, 2021

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