Infection Control

Summary of Recent Changes

Updates as of May 8, 2023

Implement Source Control Measures

Source control refers to use of respirators or well-fitting facemasks or cloth masks to cover a person’s mouth and nose to prevent spread of respiratory secretions when they are breathing, talking, sneezing, or coughing. Masks and respirators also offer varying levels of protection to the wearer. Further information about types of masks and respirators, including those that meet standards and the degree of protection offered to the wearer, is available at: Masks and Respirators. People, particularly those at high risk for severe illness, should wear the most protective mask or respirator they can that fits well and that they will wear consistently.

Even when a facility does not require masking for source control, it should allow individuals to use a mask or respirator based on personal preference, informed by their perceived level of risk for infection based on their recent activities (e.g., attending crowded indoor gatherings with poor ventilation) and their potential for developing severe disease if they are exposed.

Source control is recommended for individuals in healthcare settings who:

  • Have suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection or other respiratory infection (e.g., those with runny nose, cough, sneeze); or
  • Had close contact (patients and visitors) or a higher-risk exposure (HCP) with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection, for 10 days after their exposure

Source control is recommended more broadly as described in CDC’s Core IPC Practices in the following circumstances:

  • By those residing or working on a unit or area of the facility experiencing a SARS-CoV-2 or other outbreak of respiratory infection; universal use of source control could be discontinued as a mitigation measure once the outbreak is over (e.g., no new cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection have been identified for 14 days); or
  • Facility-wide or, based on a facility risk assessment, targeted toward higher risk areas (e.g., emergency departments, urgent care) or patient populations (e.g., when caring for patients with moderate to severe immunocompromise) during periods of higher levels of community SARS-CoV-2 or other respiratory virus transmission (See Appendix)
  • Have otherwise had source control recommended by public health authorities (e.g., in guidance for the community when COVID-19 hospital admission levels are high)

Admission testing is at the discretion of the facility. Pros and cons of screening testing are described in Section 1.

Recommended infection prevention and control (IPC) practices when caring for a patient with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection:

The IPC recommendations described below (e.g., patient placement, recommended PPE) also apply to patients with symptoms of COVID-19 (even before results of diagnostic testing) and asymptomatic patients who have met the criteria for empiric Transmission-Based Precautions based on close contact with someone with SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, these patients should NOT be cohorted with patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection unless they are confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2 infection through testing.

 Personal Protective Equipment

  • HCP who enter the room of a patient with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection should adhere to Standard Precautions and use a NIOSH-approved particulate respirator with N95 filters or higher , gown, gloves, and eye protection (i.e., goggles or a face shield that covers the front and sides of the face).
  • Respirators should be used in the context of a comprehensive respiratory protection program, which includes medical evaluations, fit testing and training in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134)

Patient Placement

  • Place a patient with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in a single-person room. The door should be kept closed (if safe to do so). Ideally, the patient should have a dedicated bathroom.
    • If cohorting, only patients with the same respiratory pathogen should be housed in the same room. MDRO colonization status and/or presence of other communicable disease should also be taken into consideration during the cohorting process.
  • Facilities could consider designating entire units within the facility, with dedicated HCP, to care for patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection when the number of patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection is high. Dedicated means that HCP are assigned to care only for these patients during their shifts. Dedicated units and/or HCP might not be feasible due to staffing crises or a small number of patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Limit transport and movement of the patient outside of the room to medically essential purposes.
  • Communicate information about patients with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection to appropriate personnel before transferring them to other departments in the facility (e.g., radiology) and to other healthcare facilities.