Urge CDC Director Mandy Cohen to Reject HICPAC’s Draft and Protect Health Care Workers and Patients from Infectious Diseases!

The CDC is updating infection prevention guidance for health care workers and patients. But the CDC has entrusted its advisory committee, HICPAC, which is dominated by health care industry managers and executives, with drafting updates.  

HICPAC’s draft would give health care employers free rein to prioritize profits over infection prevention protections for health care workers and patients. Now, the CDC has the choice to accept or reject HICPAC’s draft. 

Urge the CDC to reject HICPAC’s weak draft and create a new one that protects health care workers and their patients! 


Dear Dr. Mandy Cohen: 

We urge you to reject draft updates to infection prevention guidance for health care settings, as proposed by the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On November 3, 2023, HICPAC unanimously approved draft updates to the 2007 Guideline for Isolation Precautions to send to CDC for review. HICPAC’s draft fails to incorporate advancements in scientific understanding of infectious diseases transmission and proposes to weaken existing guidance. 

Specific issues with HICPAC’s draft that must be remedied include: 

  • Fails to recognize the science on aerosol transmission of infectious diseases and remains overly focused on short vs far range transmission. 
  • Inaccurately treats surgical masks as respiratory protection for health care workers exposed to infectious aerosols and reserves N95 and other respirators for only specific “special” circumstances.  
  • Focuses almost exclusively on personal protective equipment (PPE) but fails to make substantive recommendations on other essential measures, such as ventilation, patient and visitor screening, and isolation. 

We urge the CDC to develop a new draft that actively incorporates the expertise of and insights from frontline healthcare workers and their unions, patients, and public health experts—both in infection prevention and other fields with essential expertise, including industrial hygiene, ventilation engineering, respiratory protection, aerosol science, and occupational medicine and nursing. The CDC should issue strong, robust guidance to prevent infections among health care workers and patients in order to protect public health.