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Virginia businesses up precautions amid spread of omicron variant

Coronavirus test
Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-27 22:24:09-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The CDC is shortening the number of days people should isolate if they contract COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, from ten.

The announcement came Monday evening. They said data shows transmission primarily occurs early on in the course of the illness.

The shorter time frame could come as a relief to many employers and employees.

Nearly two years into the pandemic, local ice cream chain Gelati Celesti is once again asking all customers, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks.

The request is an effort to stop the extremely transmissible Omicron variant.

"Our objective has been to protect both the physical health and the financial health of our employees," Steve Rosser, the owner of Gelati Celesti said.

Rosser said he is continuing to follow all CDC guidelines when it comes to quarantine and isolation, which now means if an employee tests positive for COVID, regardless of vaccination status, they should isolate for five days, if asymptomatic.

"What we are doing is laying plans for moving employees from one store to another, we may have to close a few stores temporarily, but then we would move those employees to boost the employment at another store so we can keep them going to the degree that we can," Rosser said.

Cases have skyrocketed in Virginia from a little over 9,000 the week that ended November 6 to nearly 36,000 the week that ended December 26.

Epidemiologist Chtaura Jackson with the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts said isolation and quarantine measures are still needed even with people vaxxed and boosted.

"It's great that you're getting vaccinated, but again breakthrough cases happen so you still want to use those mitigation strategies, and I know everyone is done they want COVID over, unfortunately, it's going to remain with us, and how severe it is depends on what we do," Jackson said.

She said the more opportunity the virus has to spread, the more opportunity it has to mutate into a potentially more severe strain.

She is advising employers like Steve Rosser to continue to follow the CDC guidelines, and employees to get vaccinated and boosted.

The CDC already shortened isolation time for health care workers to try to curb potential staffing shortages.