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NEW YORK – As New York continues to fight the surge in COVID cases, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced new guidance for health care and critical workforce employees returning to work after a COVID diagnosis.

Under the new guidance, critical workers now have a shorter return-to-work timeline.

Any health care worker or critical workforce member who tests positive for COVID can return to work after five days if:

  • They are vaccinated
  • They are asymptomatic or symptoms have resolved
  • No fever for 72 hours
  • Workers must wear a mask when they return to work.

Critical care workers include those working in health care, eldercare, sanitation, grocery, pharmacies and other similar industries.

“We want to make sure that our critical workforce that we’ve relied on from the beginning, and my heart goes out to them filled with gratitude, can get back,” the governor said. 

“We need you again. We need you to be able to go to work,” she added.

Her announcement comes after federal officials loosened isolation rules for health care workers. 

Those workers who test positive now will be allowed to come back to work after seven days if they test negative and don’t have symptoms. Isolation time can be cut to five days, or even fewer, if there are severe staffing shortages, according to the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

CDC officials have advised that in calculating the 10-day isolation period, the first day should be the first full day after symptoms first developed or after a positive test. If a person develops symptoms sometime after a positive COVID-19 test, the quarantine period must restart, beginning one day after the symptoms develop.