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Employers Worry About Office Return Mandates As Delta Variant Surges

Companies with office workers returning to in-person offices in the fall might be set back by the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, which have had the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in high-risk scenarios, CNBC writes.

The uptick is because of the Delta variant, which is much more contagious and sees spikes occurring in all 50 states.

So the CDC has reversed its guideline from earlier this year in which it said vaccinated people could safely go without masks in most occasions.

The CDC has also recommended masks for all students, teachers and staff at K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

This, CNBC notes, is still only a recommendation that companies do not have to follow, and several states like California and Nevada were still requiring masks despite vaccination status in general.

Kate Lister, president of the employer research firm Global Workplace Analytics, said she’s been speaking with clients about the safety of returning. CNBC quotes her saying it’s not the time to rush things due to the high rates of infection happening.

“Just because the memo already went out doesn’t mean the date cannot change,” she said, per CNBC. “If we have learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that we need to be more agile in our thinking.”

The Delta variant’s surge has caused alarm around the speed of its surge. Sixty medical groups, including the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association, have called for mandatory vaccinations for all health care workers, saying it should be an obligation as cases continue to spike.

Elsewhere, the Department of Veterans Affairs has become the first federal agency to require that employees be vaccinated. That came with a demand for 115,000 frontline workers to get the shots within the next two months.

“I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” said Denis McDonough, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, in an interview with The New York Times, per PYMNTS.

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