Healthcare Personnel (HCP): HCP refers to all paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials, including body substances (e.g., blood, tissue, and specific body fluids); contaminated medical supplies, devices, and equipment; contaminated environmental surfaces; or contaminated air. HCP include, but are not limited to, emergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, home healthcare personnel, physicians, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, dental healthcare personnel, students and trainees, contractual staff not employed by the healthcare facility, and persons not directly involved in patient care, but who could be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted in the healthcare setting (e.g., clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing, and volunteer personnel).
Healthcare settings refers to places where healthcare is delivered and includes, but is not limited to, acute care facilities, long-term acute-care facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, home healthcare, vehicles where healthcare is delivered (e.g., mobile clinics), and outpatient facilities, such as dialysis centers, physician offices, dental offices, and others.
Source control: Use of respirators, well-fitting facemasks, or well-fitting cloth masks to cover a person’s mouth and nose to prevent spread of respiratory secretions when they are breathing, talking, sneezing, or coughing. Source control devices should not be placed on children under age 2, anyone who cannot wear one safely, such as someone who has a disability or an underlying medical condition that precludes wearing one safely, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove their source control device without assistance. Face shields alone are not recommended for source control.
Cloth mask: Textile (cloth) covers that are intended primarily for source control in the community. They are not personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriate for use by healthcare personnel. Guidance on design, use, and maintenance of cloth masks is available.
Facemask: OSHA defines facemasks as “a surgical, medical procedure, dental, or isolation mask that is FDA-cleared, authorized by an FDA EUA, or offered or distributed as described in an FDA enforcement policy. Facemasks may also be referred to as ‘medical procedure masks.” Facemasks should be used according to product labeling and local, state, and federal requirements. FDA-cleared surgical masks are designed to protect against splashes and sprays and are prioritized for use when such exposures are anticipated, including surgical procedures. Other facemasks, such as some procedure masks, which are typically used for isolation purposes, may not provide protection against splashes and sprays.
Respirator: A respirator is a personal protective device that is worn on the face, covers at least the nose and mouth, and is used to reduce the wearer’s risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles (including dust particles and infectious agents), gases, or vapors. Respirators are certified by CDC/NIOSH, including those intended for use in healthcare.
Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIRs):
- AIIRs are single-patient rooms at negative pressure relative to the surrounding areas, and with a minimum of 12 ACH (6 ACH are allowed for AIIRs last renovated or constructed prior to 1997).
- Air from these rooms should be exhausted directly to the outside or be filtered through a HEPA filter directly before recirculation.
- Room doors should be kept closed except when entering or leaving the room, and entry and exit should be minimized.
- Facilities should monitor and document the proper negative-pressure function of these rooms.
Immunocompromised: For the purposes of this guidance, moderate to severely immunocompromising conditions include, but might not be limited to, those defined in the Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines
- Other factors, such as end-stage renal disease, may pose a lower degree of immunocompromise. However, people in this category should still consider continuing to practice physical distancing and use of source control while in a healthcare facility, even if they are up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses.
- Ultimately, the degree of immunocompromise for the patient is determined by the treating provider, and preventive actions are tailored to each individual and situation.
Close contact: Being within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The studies used to inform this guidance did not clearly define “severe” or “critical” illness. This guidance has taken a conservative approach to define these categories. Although not developed to inform decisions about duration of Transmission-Based Precautions, the definitions in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelineexternal icon are one option for defining severity of illness categories. The highest level of illness severity experienced by the patient at any point in their clinical course should be used when determining the duration of Transmission-Based Precautions. Clinical judgement regarding the contribution of SARS-CoV-2 to clinical severity might also be necessary when applying these criteria to inform infection control decisions.
Mild Illness: Individuals who have any of the various signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat, malaise, headache, muscle pain) without shortness of breath, dyspnea, or abnormal chest imaging.
Moderate Illness: Individuals who have evidence of lower respiratory disease by clinical assessment or imaging, and a saturation of oxygen (SpO2) ≥94% on room air at sea level.
Severe Illness: Individuals who have respiratory frequency >30 breaths per minute, SpO2 <94% on room air at sea level (or, for patients with chronic hypoxemia, a decrease from baseline of >3%), ratio of arterial partial pressure of oxygen to fraction of inspired oxygen (PaO2/FiO2) <300 mmHg, or lung infiltrates >50%.
Critical Illness: Individuals who have respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction.
In pediatric patients, radiographic abnormalities are common and, for the most part, should not be used as the sole criteria to define COVID-19 illness category. Normal values for respiratory rate also vary with age in children, thus hypoxia should be the primary criterion to define severe illness, especially in younger children.