Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

CDC Acknowledges Airborne Threat of Covid-19

 For the first time, the CDC is signing on to a medical theory which has been pushed by experts for months. In a document published Friday, the CDC states they have “repeatedly documented” cases in which the virus spread through the air to people who were more than six feet away from the individual infected, “under certain preventable circumstances.” It’s a move away from the CDC’s previous warning of “close contact” causing coronavirus infections.

And the new language could have ramifications for workplaces, as experts say the aerosol threat of the virus in indoor, poorly ventilated spaces could pose threats to employees back at work — even in masks, or distanced six feet from others. Regulations are currently based on droplet-transmission, which caused the six-foot social distancing standard. Now, some experts are suggesting revisiting workplace guidelines, including the use of respirators for those exposed constantly to new people. Read more at the New York Times.

Vaccination Rates Mean U.S. Could Begin Relaxing Indoor Masks

Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke on ABC News Sunday morning, addressing the question of indoor masking. As more Americans get vaccinated, he says, the CDC will continue to update guidance for mask-wearing. Last month, outdoor mask guidance was relaxed for vaccinated wearers. Now, he suggests, if vaccination rates continue to climb, indoor mask mandates might be the next to loosen. Dr. Fauci suggested that the United States could be largely back to normal in a year’s time if people continued to get vaccinated.

“We’ve got to make sure that we get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated,” he reminded viewers. “When that happens, the virus doesn’t really have any place to go.”

Biden Administration Revives Transgender Health Protections

The Biden administration has announced the government will protect gay and transgender people against sex discrimination in health care. Federal laws addressing sex discrimination in health care also protect gay and transgender people, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. This reverses a Trump administration decision to define “sex” as a gender assigned at birth, which excluded transcoder people. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra stated, “Everyone — including LGBTQ people — should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”