NY Gov. Hochul shortens quarantine period for 'critical workforce': 'We need you again'

The new state guidelines come amid a shortage of frontline workers

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Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., announced Friday that she is shortening the requisite quarantine period for vaccinated "critical workforce" who test positive for COVID-19.

Under the new state guidelines, fully vaccinated workers in frontline industries such as health care can go back to work after five days instead of the previously required 10 days, according to The Associated Press.

Such workers must be either asymptomatic or showing resolving symptoms, said Hochul, who spoke during a briefing at the New York state Capitol in Albany. They must also be free of a fever for 72 hours, not be taking medication, and wear a mask on the job.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul addresses the media during the 2021 New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11, 2021. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul addresses the media during the 2021 New York City Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11, 2021.  (John Lamparski/Getty Images)

"We want to make sure that our critical workforce who we’ve relied on from the beginning … that our workers can get back," Hochul said. "And that includes our health care, elder care, home health care, sanitation, grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants — you know who you are.

"We need you again, we need you to be able to go to work."

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Hochul also defended her administration's response to the ongoing pandemic amid the spread of the omicron variant.

"We’re going to continue to spread holiday cheer, not COVID," Hochul said. "We are going to keep things open. We’re going to do the right things, but we will not get complacent. We are going to get through this battle, my friends. We’re smart. We know how to do this. We’re not shutting down business. We’re not shutting down schools."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to reporters after a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony at the state Capitol on Aug. 24, 2021, in Albany.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks to reporters after a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony at the state Capitol on Aug. 24, 2021, in Albany. (AP Photo)

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Hochul's policy echoes guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggested on Thursday that health care workers with COVID-19 can return to work after following a week-long quarantine.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul gives a news conference at the state Capitol on Aug. 11, 2021, in Albany.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul gives a news conference at the state Capitol on Aug. 11, 2021, in Albany. (Hans Pennink/AP Photo)

"Our goal is to keep health care personnel and patients safe, and to address and prevent undue burden on our healthcare facilities. Our priority remains prevention — and I strongly encourage all healthcare personnel to get vaccinated and boosted," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.