Updated CDC COVID-19 Symptom Screening Requirements for Health Care Workers, Others Meet CMS Expectations

November 9, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued updated guidance on recommended practices for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, including different options for screening health care personnel, patients, and visitors entering a health care facility. GNYHA has confirmed with the New York State Department of Health (DOH) that the updated CDC guidance meets the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ expectations for compliance with infection control Conditions of Participation.

CDC Recommended Practices

CDC notes that symptom screening remains an important strategy to identify those who could have COVID-19, and recommends the following:

  • Limit and monitor points of entry to the facility.
  • Establish a process to ensure that everyone entering the facility (patients, health care personnel, and visitors) is assessed for symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to others with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and that they are practicing source control.
    • Options could include (but are not limited to) individual screening on arrival at the facility, or implementing an electronic monitoring system in which, prior to arrival at the facility, people report absence of fever and symptoms of COVID-19, absence of a diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the prior 10 days, and confirm they have not been exposed to others with SARS-CoV-2 infection during the prior 14 days.
      • Fever can be either measured temperature ≥100.0°F or subjective fever. People might not notice symptoms of fever at the lower temperature threshold that is used for those entering a health care setting, so they should be encouraged to actively take their temperature at home or have their temperature taken upon arrival.
    • Obtaining reliable temperature readings is affected by multiple factors, including:
      • The ambient environment in which the temperature is measured—if the environment is extremely hot or cold, body temperature readings may be affected, regardless of the temperature-taking device that is used.
      • Proper calibration of the thermometers per manufacturer standards—improper calibration can lead to incorrect temperature readings.
      • Proper usage and reading of the thermometers—non-contact infrared thermometers frequently used for health screening must be held at an established distance from the temporal artery in the forehead to take the temperature correctly. Holding the device too far from or too close to the temporal artery affects the reading.